This Sunday, while many of us are enjoying the holiday weekend and taking in some of the great local events and activities associated with honoring our veterans, I ask everyone to take a moment to honor the strength, courage and dedication of our veterans and remember their sacrifices, selflessly made, so we can enjoy the liberties and freedoms we have today.
Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, almost 3 million American men and women volunteered and answered our nation’s call to arms.
The brave actions of today’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and coast guardsmen, like those who served in the hedgerows of Normandy, the hilltops of the 38th Parallel, the jungles of Vietnam, the streets of Baghdad and in the skies over Afghanistan, are writing a history that will endure for generations to come. And like the generations before them, today’s serviceman and woman, whether serving in combat or here at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, represent a lasting legacy of strength and selfless service that has been the fabric of the United States, dating back to its inception.
Nearly half of the men and women serving in the military are between 22 and 30 years old. This represents the largest population of young veterans since the Vietnam War. More than 1.3 million servicemen and women have deployed overseas and returned to our communities. With the conclusion of operations in Afghanistan, the Army will get smaller over the next five years.
More than 130,000 soldiers will leave the Army this year, and more than 500,000 by 2017. But as our soldiers follow in the proud footsteps of the generations who served in the Army before them, they too bring with them the uncommon and unwavering strength characteristic of our veterans. They serve “strong” in everything they do. This strength, no matter the business or profession, is a quality desired by employers.
The Army is committed to assisting in the transition process from military to civilian life through a number of programs: the Army Career Alumni Program (acap.army.mil), Hire America’s Heroes (hireamericasheroes.org), Hero 2 Hired (h2h.jobs), Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces (employerpartnership.org), and the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (msepjobs.militaryonesource.mil),. All of these programs are designed to help our servicemen and women who will depart the military to find jobs that best match their knowledge, skills, abilities and interests.
I am often asked, “What qualities do soldiers have that make them sought after in the workplace?” My answer is always the same: “Soldiers bring exceptional training, values and experience to their civilian jobs. They are strong and resilient, creative and determined.”
During their time in uniform, the leadership and technical skills veterans develop make them a valuable commodity to any organization. Their decision-making skills are informed by quick, clear thinking. They have honed their leadership skills in some of the most austere, challenging and complex environments. They are exceptional team-builders and natural team players. And finally, they possess a work ethic that demonstrates an unwavering commitment to duty and excellence.
As young men and women transition out of the Army, supporting our veterans will require a team approach by the Army, other government agencies, the South Sound community and Washington state to ensure post-military service opportunities for employment, education and health care continue.
I encourage you to see the strength in our veterans and their families and look for ways to help them. If you know an organization that wants to help veterans, encourage it to register with the National Resource Directory, https://www.nrd.gov/, so our wounded, ill and injured warriors and their families can access information about available services.
Together we can ensure our veterans have every opportunity to make a difference – not only in their lives, but also in our communities.
So, on this Veterans Day as we gather with friends and family, take a moment to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our county, remember the missing, celebrate the living, and recognize our greatest resource – our veterans. I encourage you to see the strength of our veterans and their families and look for ways to help the next “greatest” generation build a better tomorrow for our nation.Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown is the commanding general of I Corps and Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He assumed this position on July 3, 2012.