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The best part of where things are evolving in our country today is that it’s not just military veterans who get to be patriotic. A critical way we demonstrate patriotism is through the work we choose to do, the things we purchase and the way we do business.
Below is a summary of the types of efforts and opportunities being made available to our country’s men and women who have risked their lives to preserve our freedoms, as well as help our country’s actual economic growth. It shows how all of us can participate in celebrating our country in meaningful ways, all year long.
Where are the biggest opportunities for patriotic contributions in the work force? A critical opportunity for our country is embracing the explosive job growth opportunities that are sprouting up in the skill trades and manufacturing career paths.
Mike Rowe, host of the popular show, “Dirty Jobs,” and founder of The Mike Rowe Works Foundation, has made it his mission to bring light to this growing job market. His foundation offers scholarships for those pursuing skilled jobs outside of the traditional college degree path. In an interview in 2018 he stated, “The definition of a good job is completely in our purview to define. But we almost never do it in a way that’s an accurate representation of the times we are currently living in.”
He’s referencing our obsession with the past version of a good career while completely ignoring all the amazing and good paying job opportunities cropping up in the skills trade. Not only does that help those individuals in need of work and a viable career but it is also critical to our economic growth. A major patriotic contribution to be made is in fact the work and skill set needed to build the very infrastructure of our country.
How are companies starting to align with this job growth? A perfect example of a company that is creating a thriving business while supporting our country’s growth is Wolverine. They’re an American company that manufactures work boots for those in trades and skilled labor jobs. Not only do they have an over 100-year history of supporting American manufacturing but they also give back by launching programs like Project Bootstrap, that helps connect young people with the booming opportunities in the skilled trades.
How is this helping our veterans? Wolverine also partners with organizations like Workshops for Warriors. This organization’s mission is to, “rebuild American manufacturing one veteran at a time.” They go beyond basic career counseling. They help active military getting ready to complete their service and enter the civilian workforce, as well as supporting military veterans looking for work or trying to build marketable skills in a new career field.
But does any of this really help veterans or the economy? I recently had the honor to get to speak with a true war hero, amazing human and direct beneficiary of the work Wolverine and Workshops for Warriors have do for veterans.
Mike Spivey served in the Marine Corp as a combat engineer. He always knew he was not meant for clerical or office work. His work helping to locate and remove IEDs to clear the way for the troops following behind him felt like a tough but good fit. However, during one of his tours, one of those IEDs went off, costing Mike the loss of half his arm and multiple bodily injuries.
Due to those severe injuries, Mike was forced to retire from his service as a Marine. For many of us, it would have been the beginning of the end. But for Mike, he set his sights on his next chapter. As a civilian, he pursued his love of working on cars and opened up his own business. But tragedy struck again when he lost close family members and friends to accidents and disease all within a year of each other.
Again, the average person would be down in the dirt from this second wave of loss. Instead, Mike moved on to snowboarding and competing in the Paralympics. When asked where he developed this level of resilience and resourcefulness, he shared, “I’ve always believed that just because the chapter that you’re in isn’t what you want doesn’t mean that’s where you will be forever. It’s just a chapter. It will get better. Sometimes it will take a lot of work and sometimes things will just work out.”
Anyone hearing Mike’s story would view his path as requiring a great deal of work. But he would also point to luck that has helped him in his career. That includes stumbling upon the Workshop for Warriors booth while running a 5k with a friend. He knew his years as a competitive snowboarder had a shelf life so he was thrilled to see there was an opportunity to diversify his skills and continue to create demand for his work.
He quickly found himself enrolled in a four-month computer training program. He’s seen first-hand the investment and support Wolverine has put into the Workshops for Warriors. He highlights the importance of the programs incorporating the vast amount of training and experience vets already bring to the table. Not only that, but since there is a combo of active duty and veteran participants, a part of that military camaraderie and community is recreated for all of them. The focus on training them for jobs that will also support the growth of the American economy helps provide that sense of purpose and patriotism that often drives military personnel to begin with.
What can you do to demonstrate your patriotism? With a 60% rate of veteran unemployment or underemployment, organizations like the above are not only critical for truly supporting our troops but in helping our country continue to evolve its economic growth. Each of us play a role in that. You don’t have to be a war hero that has sacrificed like Mike Spivey has. Very few of us are cut out for that level of bravery and tenacity.
You can contribute by simply valuing manufacturing and skilled trade jobs as much as you may value college degree related jobs. You can donate or volunteer with programs like Workshop for Warriors. You can purchase goods from companies like Wolverine that focuses on America’s manufacturing growth and investing in the development of our youth and veterans.
In my book, “Low Man on the Totem Pole: Stop Begging for a Promotion, Start Selling Your Genius,” I have the last few chapters dedicated to helping veterans, and the companies poised to hire them, ensure they get to continue their commitment to patriotism as they enter the civilian workforce. As a vet who didn’t experience much support as I exited from the military, I’m pretty thrilled to see the tide is turning in this area.
July 4, 2019 at 12:25PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs