When Reveille is Replaced with an Alarm Clock
This Veterans Day, as I look back on my travels across North Carolina, two things are at the forefront of my thoughts:
- the number of veterans I’ve met who are helping make this state better.
- the number of veterans that are in need of help.
I come from a military family. I was born at Camp Lejeune. My father is a retired Marine and Airman. Like many veterans, he continues to answer the call to make our country and community better even when reveille was replaced by an alarm clock.
We have over 720,000 veterans in North Carolina. After answering the call to serve, too many of them are left calling out for help. According to Feeding America, 1 in 9 working-age veterans live in food-insecure households. NC has the third largest military presence in the country — just focusing on hunger, we have thousands that are insecure.
Add in mental health issues like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a lack of affordable housing, we are letting down thousands of men, women, and families who served us.
Hearing stories about military families struggling after sacrifice has been heartbreaking for me. Some of those stories involve homelessness and veterans that have been justice involved. Many have experienced both. As the son of a Marine, it’s hard not to get angry when someone who stepped forward gets knocked back so many times.
The need for a “whole worker” approach in North Carolina is urgent. Our communities are better when veterans have effective pathways to employment. Programs that offer paid training, veteran-specific job fairs, and networking events are steps in the right direction. Paying attention to everything that North Carolina’s laborers need to be ready for work, especially our veterans, leads to affordable housing, better nutrition, and healthcare. That’s what the “whole worker” approach is about.
My personal experience working next to veterans echoes what I’ve been told numerous times by business owners: veterans have world-class technical training, they are resourceful, and they know how important teamwork is. Hiring veterans is good for business.