One Year On – Joining Forces
Joining Forces-One Year Later
The one-year anniversary has passed, with some ceremonies, pictures, and events. And the yammering started right away. There were those who bitched that it wasn’t enough, that there isn’t a program for their issue, their area, their needs or wants. They complain that jobs aren’t being handed out like M&Ms at Halloween; they demand everything NOW; they question every announcement, every step forward, asking why there isn’t more, more, more. There are people complaining that the jobs being found, or being announced, aren’t careers, that they aren’t the types of jobs people will want for a long time to come. Conversely, there are those who complain that the emphasis on “careers” is wrong, that people want and need a good paying job, in some cases any job that will help them to bring in a little extra cash.
Some are wondering why it took so long to set up the program, “it should have been ready from day one”. Setting up something like this takes time, and commitment from partners. Many of them were reluctant to step forward, and persuading them takes more than saying “it’s the right thing to do”, even when it IS the right thing to do. Could it have gone faster? Probably. But after living here in the DC area, and seeing how things in the Beltway area works, I am not surprised that it took a year to get it set up and another year to get enough partners together to make it work. Is it perfect? No. It isn’t. But nothing is.
It is better than the nothing that it replaced. There was no program in place before this to help military families and veterans in this same way. There was no partnership between the corporate world and the military community, trying to help us find jobs, trying to help veterans start businesses and helping their caregivers to find jobs in a company that might begin to understand what they are going through. Educating the civilian world about what military families are really like is one of the advantages I have seen from the Joining Forces program. The amount of press that the First Lady and Dr. Biden get and during which they talk about military families has brought attention to our issues, our problems and our strengths. This isn’t charity, this isn’t pity, this is a hand given to help, to strengthen and to celebrate all of the strengths and experiences that military spouses bring. This galvanized other groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, to put together programs that are finding jobs for veterans, that are educating companies into why they should hire a veteran, a military spouse. They may not find jobs for every single veteran. It may not find a job for every single family member. But every veteran who found a job, every military spouse who was able to bring home a paycheck, is a victory for our community.
So I’m going to celebrate this year. I am not a blind optimist, ask anyone here at Left Face. Nor am I going to tell you that this is all perfect, farting rainbows and fairy dust. But I am going to say that it is better than nothing, better than the alternative of empty platitudes, flag-waving and fading yellow ribbons.