Stories like this hit home hard. Veteran unemployment is way too high. Finding a job isn’t easy and, as we all know, life goes on and obligations remain. Doing what one has to do to survive isn’t always what we would prefer.
That’s the situation that Bill Shephard, 43, of Woodbury, N.J found himself in when he returned from Iraq in 2009. Even after going back to school to get necessary certification to help his employment chances, he’s been unsuccessful in landing a job. It’s easy to believe, when things like that happen, that no one cares.
So he’s taken to Ebay and is selling an Army Achievement Medal he’s earned in an attempt to support his family.
That’s where the story takes a nice twist.
You see, the current bid on the medal is $3,000. We all know what that medal is worth retail. Not much. So the point of course is that there are those who care.
Other things that have come out of the auction to this point (it still has 5 days to go):
The publicity surrounding his auction could pay off in other ways, too. One couple offered clothing for Shephard's children and another offered a job. Yet another pledged to being [sic] a trailer to Shephard’s house to help him expand his fledgling landscaping business.
People do care. They just need to know how they can help. And that’s one of the problems inherent with military vets. They’re achievers. They’ve always been self-sufficient. They don’t want to whine or throw their problems on others, for the most part (yes, there are always exceptions – got it). So they tend to suffer in silence and when they do go public, often it is when they’re in dire straits and don’t have any real choice.
Shepard was under the impression that “the public has become numb”. But his experience of reaching out (although I’m sure he didn’t think of it as such at the time) to that public has been “beyond anything I would have ever expected,” he said.
The public’s not numb, they just need to know how they can help. If you know a vet with these sorts of problems who is entering those “dire straits” we (you) know plenty of programs and people that want to help. They just need to know who is in need and how they can provide the necessary help. We live in a great and caring country as this story demonstrates.
A lot of times it’s just the vet being unaware of what’s out there. And on the other side, these programs are just as unaware of a particular vet’s need. What most of us can do, fairly easily, is identify the need, research and identify the program that addresses that need and help make the connection. We have a great network among the milblog community and this is one way we can serve our veterans.
Our vets shouldn’t have to go on Ebay and sell their medals to get that type of attention.