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Americans Pitch In to Support- and Employ- Veterans

Thirty years ago, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) completed the privately-funded Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Washington’s Mall. However, the VVMF’s mission to “honor, educate, and heal” still endures, which is why they are currently working towards building an Educational Center. Through the work of the Faces Never Forgotten Campaign, The center will feature photos of every person named on the wall to ensure that these stories of sacrifice are never forgotten, and Americans are working together to make this happen. This project, which is receiving no government funding, will also have another important feature: jobs for veterans.

“One of the biggest problems that Veterans returning from Vietnam faced is that there were not jobs waiting for them,” said Lee Allen of the VVMF “so, as part of the commitment made by Vietnam Veterans to future veterans never to let that happen again, we have always been interested in helping returning veterans.” In the construction phase, this will mean over 600 jobs for skilled tradesmen, laborers, construction workers, and designers. 75% of these jobs are reserved for veterans or veteran-owned businesses during the construction phase. Once the center is open, the center will be donated to the National Parks Service, which also gives preference to veterans when hiring. These jobs fill an important need for our returning American heroes.

With unemployment in America hovering around 8%, and around 10% for post-911 veterans, these jobs are greatly needed and the private sector is stepping up to provide them in the forms of private donations and corporate grants. Vietnam Veteran Neal Stanley has been working to raise funds at the grassroots level, and sees the mission resonating with average Americans. “The Education Center at The Wall will allow visitors to see the contribution that the dedicated men and woman of all branches of service gave to our country.”

It takes ten years after the end of  a conflict to begin the process of a monument, which means that the fallen from Iraq and Afghanistan do not have a dedicated place at which to be honored. For this reason, the Education Center at The Wall will “stand in the gap” during that time, said Allen. Their photos will be displayed along with those from Vietnam.

It is heartwarming to see Americans from around the country pitching in to honor our veterans, whether that be remembering the fallen, or providing jobs to the men and women returning home after serving. There are many projects such as this which would not come to fruition if veterans had to wait for the government to provide the means possible. With so many having sacrificed for our country, Americans are giving back.

Amelia Hamilton

Amelia is a blogger and author of children's book One Nation Under God: A Book for Little Patriots. A lifelong writer and patriot, Amelia also loves dogs, Red Wing hockey, old cars, old movies, and apple juice. She has a master’s degree in both english and 18th century history from University of St Andrews in Scotland. You can find her on Twitter as @AmeliaHammy

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