Sue and I spent Monday, May 7th aboard the Intrepid in New York City. It was a life changing event in that we learned so many things that we could never imagine about the problems veterans face upon returning from war.
The guest speakers were like a who’s who of New York’s elite. Tom Brokaw chaired the first panel of the day and the Mayor kicked it off. Justin Balding helped us get to New York and Robin Hood could not have been more gracious with our travel arrangements and our entire day of meetings.
If you’d like to read more about the Summit, please head over to their website: http://www.robinhood.org/rhvets#section-1
The day was surreal for Sue and me as people we had never met came and thanked us for what we were doing. The best part of the day though was a man whose name I never got who came in from Atlanta to thank us and told us that he owned a company and because of the Dateline piece, he was now actively seeking to hire veterans. I told Justin about it and wrote him about how noble his profession can be. He started all this. Producers pitch the idea and if it gets approved, it takes on a life if its own.
We just returned from 7 days in the Keys with family interrupted by 15 hours in Washington D.C. The trip up from Key West to the Joining Forces Anniversary Celebration was eventful but it all worked out in the end. Sue and I arrived at the White House as instructed at 9:30AM and then went through 4 security checkpoints in order to get to the White House. The scene on the front lawn was magnificent. It’s hard to describe and even if you’ve done the “tour”, this was different. Dignitaries abounded. You knew they were important because they had their names on the chairs.
The entire Joint Chiefs of Staff were there sitting right in front of us and I was most impressed by General Odierno. He had all the time in the world for the veterans who wanted pictures with him or just to shake his hand. Someone was apologizing to him, but he couldn’t have been nicer when he said: “No, I am happy to do it“. He genuinely cared for these soldiers. There was no mistaking that fact and as a civilian it was heartwarming to see.
The ceremony lasted about an hour. Tom Brokaw came out with General Dempsey, the first lady, Jill Biden and a young lady who was a second year Airman at the Air Force Academy. The words were eloquent and the cold seemed to not matter much as the first lady spoke about all the good works that a lot of private citizens were doing and that there had been more than 20 million hours pledged so far to help these returning warriors.
There were times that were pretty emotional as we saw a lot of titanium limbs and seeing eye dogs, but these soldiers stood tall never minding the inconvenience. They were soldiers and proud to be who they were and we were honored to be in their presence. It‘s hard to know what they went through, but I‘m certain that there will be a lifetime of challenges as they live with the damages that come from our wars. Sue and I have decided that we are going to spend the rest of our useful years left trying to help these kids find meaningful jobs as best we can.
We will build Hire One Veteran to facilitate matching veterans to jobs. We have built the social side of it already with www.hireoneveteran.com The next site will be the jobs site; www.hireoneveteran.net and our corporate site will be www.hireoneveteran.org We’ll need all the help we can get, but after meeting more of these fine young men and women, it’s the least we can do for those who have given us so much. Please holler if you want to help.
It’s 6AM in Washington, DC and we’re both awake. We got in after 1AM this morning to find that they didn’t have the room we reserved. Thank goodness they had a “sister property” 5 minutes away, but when we got there we walked in to 1965. This looks like a set from an Annette Funicello – Frankie Avalon movie. I think I’m in a time warp. The dining room table is leather! Need I say more?
Anyway, we’re here and getting ready to have some breakfast and head over to the White House. (It’s really surreal to even write that: “Head over to the White House?”) Our partner; Peter said that yesterday and he’s right.
It should be fun. I’ll write about it from Atlanta tonight.
I spoke to a lovely dedicated lady yesterday whose husband has a severe brain injury and she has been working for this organization for a couple years now: https://www.wishuponaherofoundation.org/ These folks have a great concept and one that we can all learn from. Take a look, as they raise money in their community for their community and all the while hiring a veteran to do the fund raising that supports him or her. Thanks Christina!
We’re heading out of town today and will be talking to some veterans in South Florida this week while also trying to do a little fishing with our grandson and shopping with our granddaughter. Lord help me be able to afford that adventure as we will be bringing along a couple professionals; my wife and daughter!
I awoke this morning to another request for a TV interview with Sue and me. We still can’t get over the amount of attention that one interview could generate. I guess we underestimated the power of the media.
The new website has four new job posts and one of them was ours. We think we already have found another vet to hire starting the 16th of April. He spent 6 years in the Navy and we have great hopes for him! Dave has the experience to bring a lot to the company and I’m sure we can talk him into finding ways to hire a few more veterans along the way.
We’re going to take off this weekend and spend some time with our kids and grand kids and then off to the White House next week. We have no idea what that trip may bring, but we’re hoping it may result in some ideas about finding more jobs for these kids.
Our PR Firm found a law firm in Washington DC that has agreed to do some pro bono work setting up a 501 (c) 3 corporation so we can raise money to setup an employment agency for veterans. I should know more next week. Happy Easter and have a blessed Passover.
I received an email this morning from a mother whose son is joining the Marines.
After seeing the very touching piece about Charles on Dateline as well as you and your wife’s generosity, I was deeply moved and felt compelled to call and speak with him. What caring and compassionate people you are to help him and his family! Charles and the other soldiers you hired are very lucky to have you!
One of the reasons I called Charles was to get some advice….
My son Matthew,age 19, is going into the Marines around November and I am scared out of my mind for him! At the same time I am very proud of him. Charles answered a lot of questions that I had about the Marines and he understood all my fears and could relate because his parents felt the same way when he joined. I see why you hired him. He is a very patient and kind man and put my mind at ease.
Charles called me the other day and asked if we were going to have to shoot another segment called “Firing Our Veterans” because his performance has been a little off lately since the piece aired on Dateline. The phones have lit up with folks wanting to talk with Charles. It’s no wonder he hasn’t been able to focus too well on buying cars. As you can read above, Charles is the real deal and as I explained to this mother, if her son returns with the compassion of Charles Weaver, she should count herself as blessed.
One of the folks who wrote us after the Northwest Herald piece was a fellow named Scott who lives in our area and does some wonderful volunteer work with one of our local churches. Today he was kind enough to invite me to help him find a Special Forces Vet who showed up in his church a while back asking “for a can of beans”. Evidently he hadn’t eaten in days.
Scott had an idea about where this Vet was staying and after about 20 minutes of following a couple foot paths through some trees behind a factory, we found his campsite. The Vet named Steve is living in the woods in our town in a tent. Right under our noses we have a veteran who is living in the woods and needs to ride his bike to a church in Crystal Lake to ask for a can of beans. Gosh, there must be more we can do for these patriots of ours.
How do we find these people and identify their needs and help fill them? They have risked their lives for us and we let them sleep in the woods and beg for beans. We must find a way to help these souls.
Scott and his wife had put together a “care package” for him with a cooler, water and food. We found his tent, but Steve was nowhere to be found. Scott said that he would keep coming back until he gets hold of Steve. We have to find a way to help these people even if it’s one at a time. maybe that is the only way to do it; one veteran at a time. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these young men and women. They certainly stuck it out there for us and still do every day!
Sorry, we’re out of pocket today. Back tomorrow. We heard about a vet living in a tent here in town and we’re going looking for him tomorrow with the help of a new friend who has had some contact with him already.
We woke up this morning to see the Northwest Herald had written a lovely article about Charles Weaver and the events that led to him working with us at Kelly Car Buyer. The nice thing about the article is the emails that we have received so far this morning asking for help hiring veterans. We also received an email from a fellow on disability NOT from the military but he wants to volunteer to help get these kids a job. It really has been heartwarming to hear from so many people wanting to help. We need to find a way to embrace all these folks and create a way for them to help when and how they can.
We also got a great email this morning from a gentleman who wants to hire some veterans for one of his companies. Thank you Mr. G! Here was his email:
Hi Mr. & Mrs. Costigan,
I saw your segment on Dateline NBC and want to say how very impressed I was about your efforts to hire veterans. You and your wife were right on target.
I too have several businesses, one of which I am preparing to hire and could use a similar workforce. I am launching an over 50 magazine shortly and have openings in several areas. How would I go about engaging local veterans?
Your help would be greatly appreciated.
We all need to give back to the great men & women of our county for protecting us from harm’s way.
Glenn M. G
We got an invitation Friday from Admiral Mullen that started off like this:
On Monday, May 7, Robin Hood—the leading poverty fighting group in New York City—will host a full-day conference aboard the Intrepid Museum in Manhattan, dedicated to addressing the unprecedented challenges that face today’s returning veterans. We will address the fact that 18 veterans commit suicide every day, and our youngest veterans have an unemployment rate that soars above 29%. We are committed to finding the solutions that will provide meaningful jobs and the highest quality health care for our returning servicemen and women. They deserve no less.
Eighteen suicides a day? My God that is a lot! Sue and I will be going to find out if there is anything we can do, but more importantly this should bring to light that a lot of these veterans have feelings of inadequacy, helplessness and despair. I’m sure there are a myriad of causes but there has to be a way to ease the rate of Vets killing themselves.
We’ll go to work to see how we can find some more of these returning veterans a job. We are open to any comments or suggestions. Please help.