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 our corporate site here: 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.