A week ago, I had a surprise visit from a close friend. She and I had been through thick and thin when our husbands were stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, and we remain close to this day, even though our paths have taken us out of the service and on to different places. We’re talking 2+ hour phone calls and frequent IM chats. My three kids can recite her phone number just as easily as their own.
After touching base recently, our conversation landed on the recent Navy ERB. ERB is the Enlistment Retention Board, which is tasked with making the difficult choice of who gets to continue in service to their country, and who gets the DoD version of a pink slip.
Drawdown, force shaping, whatever the term (I actually read an article that referred to members as “inventory”), the 2012 cuts have been wreaking emotional havoc on many military families, either directly through notice they are being discharged, indirectly by knowing someone who has, or fear of what’s to come. Just among our small circle of acquaintances, three have already been told their service is no longer required or desired. Fear, anxiety and anger seem to be the order of the day among those touched by these cuts. For good reason:
- Predictions that young combat veteran unemployment could reach 50%
- Military spouse unemployment rates hovering at 26%
- A “frustratingly sluggish” economic recovery
- The “Been There, Done That” Factor. Remember the 1990s?
Statistics aside, there is a sadness unique to our military and their families when the time comes to move on. Military service is a calling, felt with a depth of faith understood only by those who dedicate their life in service (whatever form that may take). Faith in country, mission, and each other. One more time, they are being asked to leave their home and their family, except this time the home and family is the military itself.
We may not be able to change who will be asked to leave, but we can certainly do something to support the families facing the transitions. This is a call to action for our community to stand by these families and help however we can. Lend an ear, make a connection, pass on word of a job opportunity. Listen and learn from those who are and have gone through the transition.
One day, we all eventually hang up the uniform.
Share your thoughts, transition tips, and check out the resources below
US Chamber of Commerce Hire Our Heroes: In March of 2011, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched its Hiring Our Heroes program, a nationwide effort to help veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment. In addition to a goal of 100 nationwide job fairs, their programs include: a Wounded Warrior Transition Assistance Program, a Student Veterans Internship and Employment Program, and a Women Veterans and Military Spouses Employment Program
National Resource Directory’s Veterans Job Bank
Department of Veterans Affairs Veteran Employment Coordination Service
Broader resources also available at Military One Source.