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Guest Post: Providing Support to Veterans Who Need It Most

(Today's guest post is by Joseph McAtee, Communications Coordinator for the National Resource Directory. If you would like to guest write for us, please check out our guest post guidelines. We look forward to publishing reader posts on future Tuesdays.

Quick note: The views of guest writers are not necessarily the view of Michael C or Eric C. In today’s post, though we are glad to host The National Resource Directory.)

Earlier this year, a report from the chairman’s staff of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee laid bare the challenge. On the left side of the graph, a muted red bar noting the unemployment rate was ominous enough.“8.5% - Non-Veterans, 18 and older.” But beyond that stood a taller, darker, more imposing bar.  “10.9% - Post-9/11 Veterans.”

In June, The New York Times reported that during a hearing before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, a Congressional Budget Office analyst suggested in her testimony that the annual cost of caring for Veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would could rise from $1.9 billion in 2010 to $8.4 billion in 2020.

Citing recent data published by the Department of Veterans Affairs, a USA Today article said the number of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans who are “homeless or in programs aimed at keeping them off the streets” has doubled three times since 2006.

Whether it is employment, health care, housing or any of the other myriad factors that apply to Service Members, Veterans and those who care for them, the challenges that face the military community are unique.

In order to meet those challenges, the Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs created the National Resource Directory, a portal of nearly 14,000 resources that provide assistance to the military community from education and training organizations to resources that facilitate employment of Veterans to homeless assistance and more.

Michael C, one of the founders of this blog, has expressed his dissatisfaction with the culture of the Army and the role it played in his decision to leave the service, notably in “talking about ‘helping soldiers’ while not, and a refusal to acknowledge that the soldiers most in need of help are the ones getting dishonorably discharged.”  

That’s exactly what the NRD was created for. I can attest to its success, because I too recently ETS’ed.

A year ago, I was in Iraq; by February, I had completed my initial term of service and had been honorably discharged. I was lucky.  I was never harmed during my two deployments, I don’t suffer from the kind of mental and behavioral difficulties that so many I served with do, and I had graduated college before enlisting. Many, if not most, Service Members who make the transition back to the civilian side don’t do so with such stability.

Both Michael and Eric approach violence, contextually and logically, with a reverent eye toward history and logic. The question they’ve asked often (“What is violence?”) is one that from an academic perspective, from an intellectual perspective, engages an informed readership. The U.S. faces a similar question, one that challenges our responsibilities to Veterans: What do we owe those who face violence?

Judging by the number of organizations that do so much for so many in the military, it is apparent that Americans feel a responsibility to assist Veterans in need, to assist our wounded warriors. It is a question as much about “how” as it is “what.”

I know the contributors here often have answers to the questions they pose in their blog posts. I don’t. I don’t know how to ensure that every Veteran, Wounded Warrior, military spouse and child receives what they deserve (that in and of itself is a question to be asked…just not here and not by me). I do know that the National Resource Directory is part of that answer, and I’m glad to be a part of it.

seven comments

Thanks again for the opportunity, gentlemen. I sincerely appreciate your willingness to offer up your platform for the day. Even since I’ve written this, conditions (as a whole for the country, but especially for the military community) have deteriorated. Here’s a quote from an AP piece this morning:

“Department of Labor Statistics data shows National Guard or Reserve members who have served since September 2001 had an unemployment rate of 14 percent nationally in July 2010. That compares with 12.1 percent for veterans who were not Guard or Reserve members and 9.5 percent for the general population.”

We’re working every day to make the NRD a more useful portal for the people its designed to assist. Thanks for helping us get the word out. – Joe

Our pleasure Joe, keep up the great work. Hopefully we can do something about this.


On a practical note, the site is highly functional. The search function is easy to use. You can search by zip code, type of services, etc. There seems to be everything from support systems to scholarship opportunities. This looks to be an excellent resource.


Matty,

It’s definitely a much-improved interface since it launched 3 years ago. We’re still working extremely hard to improve the site and get the word out. Getting feedback from outside our bubble is always valuable. Thanks.

When computing the unemployment levels, are those that are in school removed from the equation? I have searched but can’t seem to find the criteria in the jobless computations? Any one know?


I believe, but don’t know for sure, that unemployment levels include only people looking for work. That’s why, ironically, unemployment can go down if people give up on trying to find a job.


I just want to say that Joe’s reaching out was really appreciated and we really do support the plight of veterans.

And yeah Derek, students count as fully employed (in other words, if they aren’t looking for a job because of school full time, they aren’t counted). I highly recommend NPR’s Planet Money podcast, they bring up employment frequently.