As service members transition out of the military and rejoin the civilian world, they tend to run into a number of problems. While each is unique and serious in its own right, one of the most common affects every single veteran that comes home: finding employment. While some have an effective plan in mind or otherwise find their way to financial success, many don't. As most veterans know, the unemployment rate among former service members is higher than the civilian population.
Fortunately, not only are there jobs available for veterans, there are programs and organizations helping connect the two.
The latest initiative to help connect veterans with jobs comes from the Get Skills to Work initiative and is supported by actor Gary Sinise who's known for playing Lt. Taylor in "Forrest Gump" and Mac Taylor in "CSI: NY." Both began a social media campaign using the hashtag #BuiltByVets. Get Skills to Work is a coalition which aims to promote training of U.S. veterans and giving them the resources necessary to find work in the manufacturing industry, a sector which is currently experiencing a labor shortage.
The hashtag is being used for two reasons: to collect stories about veterans successfully securing employment and to spread awareness about the current situation with veterans and employment. The stories and footage collected through the hashtag will be used in a short, internet-released film. With a projected release date of sometime in November, the film will highlight veterans who have enjoyed success in manufacturing jobs. The tag is also appearing on a tumblr account which has already collected photos and stories to share.
The joint effort between Sinise and Get Skills to Work is in step with the actor's other projects focused on helping veterans find housing. A long-time proponent of veterans causes, Sinise formed the Gary Sinise Foundation which, among other things, supports building "smart homes" for wounded veterans.
Former Army Ranger Michael Schlitz, an ambassador of the Garry Sinise Foundation, is one such beneficiary of the program. In 2007, Schlitz and his team were hit by a roadside bomb. It killed everyone but Schlitz, but gravely burned most of his skin and took both of his hands. Despite the damage, Schlitz powered forward and underwent 83 surgeries to get his body back into working order. According to ECT.coop, Schlitz's new home will be completely wheelchair accessible and keep in mind his current ability to reach in mind – nothing will be too far for him to grasp with his prosthetic limbs.
"I'm actually pretty lucky because my injuries are physical," said Schlitz, who retired as a sergeant first class. "When you have physical injuries you can adapt. I feel really lucky."