|Photo provided courtesy of Paul Oberle|
March is National Social Work Month. Hope For The Warriors® has licensed social workers on our staff, staff members working towards earning their licensing as well as a national internship program that works with multiple universities. The depth of our clinical care work would not be possible without the expertise and dedication of these staff members. We are very grateful for the commitment they make to our service members. Today’s blog is written by Chrystal Thompson, a staff member that recently graduated with her Master in Social Work.
Hope, Courage & Leadership
This year’s theme for the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Conference is Hope, Courage & Leadership. In my opinion, this theme is quite fitting for the future of our country.
At this year’s Bush Institute’s Empowering Our Nation’s Warriors Summit in Dallas, President George W. Bush addressed a coalition of military service providers from across the country. The President painted the picture of the post-9/11 population, explaining that the post-9/11 veterans make up the “one percent of America who kept the ninety-nine percent safe." (Article)
This is the 1% of the population that left their families to deploy to the deserts in Iraq and the mountains in Afghanistan. Some grew up wanting to serve their country; others joined the service as a way to provide for their family. Some joined before they were legally able to vote for the leaders of their county. Officer or enlisted, mechanics or infantry, pilots or military police, each served with a purpose greater than self- to defend our freedoms and to protect our homeland.Hope, courage, and leadership; three terms that describe 1% of America. According to President Bush’s speech, more than one million Americans will complete their military service within the next five years, facing the hardships adjusting to the civilian lifestyle. This transition is not commonly understood by the American public, or rather the civilians.
Statistics show that post-9/11 veterans experience higher rates of unemployment compared to their civilian counterparts. Post-9/11 veterans experience difficulty fitting into the university systems and drop-out rates are not declining. This is the 1% that never did their job with the expectation of getting news media worthy recognition. Today, they simply ask for acknowledgement of their leadership experiences and skill set that they fulfilled in a set timeframe and binding contract with their employer: the U.S. government. This is commonly overlooked in the education and employment spheres, in the same homeland where these men and women laced up their boots each day to protect.
The 99% of Americans are needed even more today than they were during the height of our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Physicians, both mental health and medical health providers, are needed to care for the wounds of our veterans. Professionals in all industries are needed to offer guidance and mentorship for our veterans that are deciphering which path to take in the civilian sector. Professors need to have a competency for today’s veteran students. Businesses need to consider the training and skill set and assess which position in the company can benefit most from the strengths brought forth by the prospective veteran employee. City and community organizers need to understand that veterans are transitioning from base housing and into the community, bringing with them their children and spouse. Leaders of our country need to prepare for the face of the new decade instilling hope, courage, and leadership in one hundred percent of the American population.
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