Each Veterans Day, Americans pause to recognize the sacrifices of those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. While this holiday gives us a specific reminder to do so, it’s important to remember our heroes each and every day as they return to civilian life. Veterans face many challenges during this transition, including finding meaningful employment to support themselves and their families.
Throughout the year, Goodwill Industries of Central Florida provides local service members with programs to streamline their re-entry into civilian life. Our vocational specialists help veterans connect with employers that are looking for their skill sets. Here in Orange County, many companies see the value in hiring someone who has courageously served our country.
Recently, Goodwill helped a Central Florida resident named Lee Anne, who served as an army intelligence and counter-terrorism analyst for eight years before staying home with her young children. When Lee Anne’s husband left the family, she struggled to re-enter the workforce, holding down several low-paying jobs just to get by. Then, she was referred to Goodwill through the Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Program. We worked with Lee Anne to find a job that would use her abilities and talents. Now, she manages our program for court-ordered community-service workers. In this role, Lee Anne not only earns a solid income to provide for her family, but also she’s also giving others a chance to redirect their lives after getting into trouble with the law. Lee Anne takes pride in her job, and it shows.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 250,000 service men and women return to civilian life each year — including some of our neighbors in Central Florida. And Goodwill stands ready to welcome them home. We encourage employers to do their part by hiring our local heroes. Donating and shopping at Goodwill also supports our services for veterans, people with disabilities and others in need of work. Let’s turn our gratitude into action — and benefit our entire community in the process.
Bill Oakley is the president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Florida.