Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
If you have a friend or family member who was awarded the Purple Heart, today isn’t necessarily the day to buy a drink for him or her in hopes of hearing a detailed story about why they received it. Often, the Purple Heart commemorates the most terrifying day of someone’s life, so there may be painful and tragic memories associated with it.
Instead, think about how you can be of service to the greater community of America’s combat wounded troops. There are countless ways to get involved. While the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs provide resources, a number of gaps have widened as the roster of wounded has swelled. In addition to volunteering at a local USO center, the USO and its best-in-class partners are always looking for help by facilitating programs for wounded, ill and injured troops and their families along with the families of the fallen. Here are just a few of those offerings:
The Fisher House: The Fisher House provides free housing to wounded troops on the grounds of major military hospitals. With several families often staying at these homes together, volunteer services are often needed.
Ride 2 Recovery: USO/Ride 2 Recovery Challenge Rides test recovering troops’ endurance while allowing them to build camraderie. Visit their site to find a ride near you, where you can ride with the wounded or volunteer.
Hire Heroes USA: The USO, in collaboration with Hire Heroes USA, offers Transition Workshops and Career Opportunity Days (CODs) for wounded, ill and injured troops, spouses and caregivers. If you are an employer, you can participate by helping conduct mock interviews and provide feedback, providing an additional level of support for transitioning service members to meet with employers offering jobs.
You can learn more about these programs by visiting uso.org.
–Story by Joseph Andrew Lee, USO staff writer
This week marks the 10th anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq.
While American forces have been out of that country for more than a year, the legacy of the war is still sorting itself out.
With the absence of a draft, the conflict pushed America’s all-volunteer force to bear its greatest burden to date, with multiple deployments becoming a large concern on the home front. While the death toll was comparatively low when pitted against previous American conflicts, the extent of the injuries – both mental and physical – were unlike anything the country had openly dealt with before.
But while warfare evolved, one thing didn’t change. Through the last decade, the USO was by the side of our troops on the battlefield and their families at home.
We were there providing millions of phone calls home.
We were there delivering the comforts of home to desert battlefields.
We were there with a video connection to the delivery room when babies were being born.
We were there when the dread of losing a loved one came into focus in the form of a temporary casket being transferred on the tarmac at Dover Air Base, Del.
And we were there when America’s heroes returned, hosting happy homecomings at airports for the majority of troops who made it back unscathed and providing programs for others to deal with the physical and invisible wounds of war. To better confront these issues facing wounded, ill and injured troops, the USO conceived and constructed two Warrior and Family Centers to help them and their families both recover and get on the right track to rewarding lives and new careers.
Thanks to the generous support of the American people, the USO was always by the side of our troops and families during the Iraq War. And we’ll continue to be there, wherever they go.
–Story by USO Story Development
Let me put it plainly: We need to pull out all the stops to give our wounded, ill and injured troops returning home the resources and training they need to transition back into the workplace.
That’s why we’ve made tripling our investment in job training for our returning troops a priority in 2013, and one of the key initiatives to our effort is a special drive to raise $150,000 by Veterans Day.
In the months ahead, we’ll be organizing more than 60 USO/Hire Heroes USA Transition Workshops — workshops that are the starting place for reintegration of our brave, wounded troops into the workforce.
Donate now to support this and other critical USO initiatives for our troops — including helping our wounded heroes gain the skills and training they need to find a job and lead a life filled with hope and confidence.
At these workshops, we’ll focus on resume writing and mock interviews guided by human resources professionals from military-friendly companies. At the end of each workshop, our troops will have written an improved resume, practiced effective job interview skills and learned about additional resources and opportunities available for career development.
This hands-on training is just one of the critical types of programs for our troops that you can support by participating in our Veterans Day campaign. You can honor America’s veterans and support our troops by helping provide the resources to help servicemen and women reintegrate into their communities.
Help the USO support our troops and give our wounded heroes the chance to attend a career transition workshop and gain the training they need for their new life ahead.
You’ve been there for our wounded, ill and injured troops before. And I know you’ll support our decision to make meeting their needs for reintegration a major priority among the many programs and services we provide for our troops. I hope I can count on you to step up once again.
For the troops!
- Sloan Gibson, President and CEO, USO
P.S. Our military leaders, who understand the needs of wounded troops firsthand, have directly asked the USO to focus more attention on helping wounded troops find a path to new and rewarding careers after their military service. Help us start answering that need by raising the funds needed to provide these critically important workshops and other USO programs by Veterans Day.
Springfield, Virginia, USA - June 10, 2011: Hiring Our Heroes veterans jobs fair for wounded warriors. Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Through USO Warrior and Family Care programs, the USO is building a continuum of care from the battlefield to the community to provide our wounded, ill and injured troops, their families and caregivers a broad array of programs to help them. The USO has partnered with Hire Heroes USA and the Chamber of Commerce to assist in the transition from troop to employed civilian.
Through the year, OEF/OIF veterans and wounded warrior-led workshops are held at various military installations. They focus on resume writing, mock interviews with actual employers, professional work practices and translating prior military experience into a civilian career – invaluable tools for transitioning service members!
Career Opportunity Days (COD) are another transition program for wounded, ill and injured troops, spouses and caregivers. A COD is a non-traditional career fair where employers connect with seven to 10 troops based on interest and background. Employers conduct mock interviews and provide feedback, providing an additional level of support for transitioning service members to meet with employers offering jobs. These CODs are limited to 25 employers and 100 service member attendees to maximize impact and ensure the attendees don’t get overwhelmed.
“They’re small… but to us that’s an advantage. It means putting employers that want to hire transitioning service members and unemployed veterans in a room. With just a small number, but typically better prepared, soldier, marines and veterans, the effectiveness of this type of venue has been very good,” said Nate Smith, Executive Director, Hire Heroes USA. “Typically we see participants walking away with a 25% job offer rate. So its good for the companies, its good for the participants and this is helping to solve one of the significant problems in America right now.”
Learn more about the USO’s many programs and services at USO.org and find upcoming events and resources at Hire Heroes USA.