“I have been to no less than twenty five
by Ken Smith
“I fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now I can’t find a job.”
~ Bob G., OIF-OEF Veteran, Father, Husband, Son and new Friend’
I was called recently by someone I know, who asked me to talk to a veteran that he knew who was in trouble. Since I do that all the time, I asked “What are we going to talk about?” and my friend said, “Jobs” and the lack of. The phone call went something like this:
Hello, may I speak to Bob?
Sure hold on a moment said a woman, (I could hear young children laughing in the background).
Hi, this is Bob, may I help you?
Hi Bob, this is Ken Smith, and I am a journalist, and Bill P asked me to call you. Do you have a minute?
Bob said sure, let me tell my wife that she is now tasked with getting the kids out of the tub and I will walk outside so we can chat.
Over the next hour and half Bob told me his story. He was in the military for over 10 years, joining right after 9-11 and he was determined to do his part for his country. He married his high school sweetheart right after graduation from Army OCS and he now had two kids, a boy five and a girl three.
His wife works part time as a teachers aid, and Bob told me that he has been looking for steady work since April of this year, with no luck.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to find work? he said.
“I have been to no less than twenty five interviews”, and they all say the same thing, either I am “over qualified” or “not qualified” and I am not trying to turn my nose away from any work offers, and I dress right for each interview and actually study as much as I can about each company the night before I show up, and I tell them I will take any job, any job at all. I can write, I know a little about the internet, I am a good dad, I love my kids and my wife and I am just trying to get a “toe hold” back into society and for reasons that are not being explained to me or to other veterans, I just can’t seem to get any traction.
Do you think you could help?
Now, as some of you already know, I have my own software company and write this column in my spare time but I was intrigued by the fact that he was an officer and couldn’t find any work, so I told him I would call him back in a few days.
A few phone calls to the DOL VETS rep in this guy’s area, and all of a sudden, there is hope for Bob. He has a “temp” job, paying $16.50 per hour for now, good work through the holidays and he has a strong chance of landing a job with the county government (after additional help from the DOL vets rep). What was intriguing to me was that this officer was ignorant of that kind of help out there.
I would think, and maybe it’s just me, that anyone who is on “Unemployment”, that registers in any state, and says they are a veteran it should be automatic that they get help from the office of “DOL-Vets”
I happen to know some of the people at DOL-Vets, actually the central HQ in Washington DC folks, and I know, they are good people, dedicated to veterans and focused, and I wonder to myself, are they missing something?
I think that every vet who has served his country, regardless of rank, deserves special help and consideration and wonder to myself?
“How many Bob’s are out there tonight?”
In 1989, Ken founded the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, located in a former VA hospital at 17 Court Street in downtown Boston. One of the first facilities designed for homeless veterans and now a national model, the shelter has served over 35,000 of America’s veterans who, for whatever reason, find themselves living on the streets.
In 1992 Ken was awarded Point of Light #142 by President George H. W. Bush, and later that same year received the AMVETS Silver Helmet Award, considered the “Oscar” for American veterans. As one of America’s foremost veterans service organizations, AMVETS (or American Veterans) has a proud history of assisting veterans and sponsoring numerous programs that serve our country and its citizens. Ken was awarded this honor along with Peter Coors, with whom he still maintains a personal friendship.
Over the years Ken has appeared on many national media programs including Good Morning America, Prime Time Live, ABC News, CBS News, Larry King Live, CNN, 60 Minutes, and The Geraldo Show. He has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, and numerous international newspapers, magazines, and websites. In 1992, Ken had the distinction of addressing both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions as a keynote speaker on the subject of veterans.
Ken recently left his last assignment with the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, where he was the chief technology architect of the Veteran’s Vocational Technical Institute, Purple Heart Car Donation program, Purple Heart Call Center, Purple Heart Radio, Purple Heart Tech Support, Purple Heart Services, and over thirty new Purple Heart websites. Ken Smith provided the vision and has overseen the implementation of innovative, virtual, work-at-home training programs for veterans with combat disabilities. Ken has designed, upgraded, and supervised the integration and installation of Purple Heart Service Foundations computer and telephony systems, upgrading features from legacy POTS phones to SIP-trunked communications systems including establishing new VPN networks for teams of remote virtual employees.
An adventure sports enthusiast, Ken enjoys extreme skiing, competitive sailing, flying, and travel. He has traveled extensively worldwide, delivering his positive message to the veterans of other countries that a paraplegic veteran of the United States suffers the same as a paraplegic veteran of India; that an amputee veteran of Nepal suffers as much as an amputee veteran of France. Ken’s mentor was Harold Russell, the two-time Academy Award winner who starred in the 1946 film Best Years of Our Lives. A World War II veteran, on D-Day, June 6th, 1944, Harold lost both of his hands. This ghastly misfortune did not stop him, and he went on to become the chairman of the President’s Committee for People with Disabilities. For over fifty years he served US presidents from Truman to Clinton. Ken was humbled and grateful when Harold agreed to serve as the best man at Ken’s wedding.
Ken has been instrumental in the planning stages for the Veterans Workshop, a new nationwide veterans’ advocacy group building a new “Veterans Hotline, and the development of special programs for those who have lost their sight or their hearing, or who have suffered spinal cord injury, as a result of their military experience. The Veterans Workshop provides a forum where new technology and advancements in the fields of prosthetic and orthotic solutions, many designed by Ken, are shared along with virtual training and employment programs.
A 1970 graduate of De La Salle Academy in Newport, Rhode Island, for the past twenty-five years Ken has continued his education with extensive college courses in computer technology and related social service fields. He resides in his native state of Rhode Island with his wife and children.
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Posted by Ken Smith on October 27, 2011, With 0 Reads, Filed under Benefits, Veterans, Veterans Affairs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.