The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

November 25, 2013

Our veterans need more than a day

Guest Column

Dr. Thomas Kennedy

— America is home to 21.2 million veterans — men and women who were willing to risk their lives for our country.

Unfortunately, many of these veterans face a daunting personal battle here at home: finding work. According to the Labor Department, more than 700,000 U.S. veterans are currently unemployed. This simply isn’t acceptable. Our veterans have earned the opportunity to earn a living and take part in the very society they fought to defend.

The most effective way to help them succeed in post-military life is through targeted efforts to extend educational opportunity.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, competition for jobs has become fierce. Positions that once required a high school degree or less are being filled by college-educated applicants. This development presents a particular challenge for former soldiers, airmen, and sailors, many of whom enlisted without much education or civilian experience.

Moreover, unemployed vets who find work typically take 43 weeks to land a job.

Joblessness is stressful for all who have experienced it. However, many veterans face additional obstacles. At least 3 million were wounded in battle and still suffer from some form of disability. Among those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, about 20 percent are living with post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, and one in three cope with a serious psychological trauma.

All these stats are troubling — and illustrate why Americans must commit to making sure veterans have the tools they need to build successful post-military lives.

The best place to start is by broadening educational opportunity for our veterans. Indeed, education is often the determining factor in whether or vendors from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Santa will be there from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Non-perishable food will be accepted for donation to the local food pantry. Also, the Holiday Art Open House continues from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

You will not want to miss the presentation of “Miracle on 34th Street” at the Historic Fayette Theater on Nov. 29-30, and Dec. 1, 6-8. Show time on Friday and Saturday is 8 p.m. with 2 p.m. matinees on Sunday afternoon. Contact the Historic Fayette Theater at 304-574-4655 for ticket information.

There is a lot to see and do in Fayetteville, especially during this holiday season. The public is cordially invited to come and explore one of America’s coolest small towns.

For information, contact the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau at 304-574-1500 or online at www.VisitFayettevilleWV.com.