This country has a long history of men and women making sacrifices for our freedom.
As I celebrate our freedom and our county's independence this holiday with my family, I especially appreciate how actions across the country are enhancing the independence of those touched by military service.
Independence is not driven by words but by actions.
It is in our DNA as a country, an attitude across the nation, to want to assist those individuals who have served in uniform and their families. At the Joint Chiefs of Staffs we called this the "sea of goodwill" and our mission was to turn this groundswell of support into actionable steps.
So this July 4th, I'd ask everyone to go beyond what they might usually do (for example, thanking us for our service) and get to know us through action. A little creativity and an inquisitive mind will turn up lots of opportunities to put your talents to good use.
For example, to the medical professionals who don't currently accept Tricare, would you consider doing so? It would mean a lot for spouses and children to be able to work with doctors located outside of the military medical system.
Or to the business professional at the airport, would you email your HR team and ask what your company is doing to hire veterans? Ask them how many veteran candidates the organization has in the hiring pipeline and what is being done beyond online job boards to recruit veterans. Encourage them to send you resumes of veterans for positions that you have opening up.
Myriad organizations serve veterans and they are always seeking new volunteers. If you are a frequent reader, you know that I work with Easter Seals, the number one provider of services to the disabled. It offers many ways to engage military families within your community through activities such as summer camps for military children or respite services for spouses and caregivers.
In New England, our affiliates are implementing Veterans Count, a one-of-a-kind care coordination program that provides free and confidential support to veterans and military families. Care coordinators travel to the client, responding to needs while being unencumbered by office hours or locations.
Easter Seals care coordinators would welcome local business and community professionals who are willing to lend their time with employment issues (think mentorships and career advice), mental health/substance abuse support (such as pro bono counseling), deployment support (transportation assistance is always appreciated) and in-kind provisions. Grocery store and gas cards are items that can be easily picked up and dropped off at a local Easter Seals and truly make a difference when a family or veteran is struggling to make ends meet.
I will pledge this to you. If you extend your thanks by taking some action, you will become an honorary member of a special network of people who represent less than one half of one percent of the U.S. population. Then we can thank you for your service.