I stood in the freezing January morning under the shadow of the Washington Monument, wedged in with thousands of other spectators listening to the incoming President’s inaugural address. I wore a small button that read “HOPE,” which I had been given.
Although I wore hope on my collar I had doubt in my heart. It has been four years since I was in the Diyala River Valley in Iraq with my fellow scouts. When I joined up as a cavalry trooper in the US Army I had the delusion that because I was sacrificing to serve my nation, I would be taken care of if I were injured in the line of duty, or given benefits that put me back on par with my peers that chose not to serve. I thought Americans would do what was necessary to ensure war was avoidable and that they would do there part at home to create a country that supported their military and veterans. Instead, I returned from combat to find my country in economic ruin, the early signs of global warming effecting our environment, an even greater dependency on foreign oil, and my fellow brothers and sisters in arms neglected.
President Barack Obama stood before the immense crowd and, as always, seemed to speak honestly about change. He spoke about veterans, saying, “We honor them not only because they are the guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service, a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.” I have heard politicians make empty promises about supporting veterans, and I have watched in dismay as they turned their backs when we needed them most. It was not President’s Obama’s words that gave me encouragement that day. It was the reaction of the people watching, the energy in their eyes. It was indeed the greatest assembly of hope I have ever witnessed.
“Yes we can,” isn’t enough for change. That is why finding and joining Veterans Green Jobs has me feeling so optimistic. Veterans Green Jobs is a group that is taking hope a step further; actually creating a program to train veterans in growing green industries. I am now bringing together my fellow service members and empowering them to become leaders in solving this country’s greatest challenges. Veterans Green Jobs is a “yes we are” organization that isn’t waiting for change, we are creating it, one veteran at a time.
By taking qualities earned through the military and the desire to serve others and combining new knowledge and aptitudes in green careers, Veterans Green Jobs will create a dependable workforce to restore America’s environment, economy and communities. Veterans Green Jobs empowers veterans to once again serve their country alongside their comrades. This meaningful work is rewarding and provides veterans with skills that in the coming years will remain in demand – and cannot be outsourced. This green mobilization will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and business opportunities. Veterans Green Jobs gives veterans the chance to get on the ground floor of the fastest growing industry of our generation.
When most of the crowd left the National Mall to head for warmth and shelter, they were excited to see what was next. As I passed the reflecting pool and the Vietnam Memorial wall, I thought about my role in the changes to come. I thought about my father and what he fought for in Vietnam and my Grandfathers in World War II. I thought about my children and the world that I will leave to them. I am not in a position to wait to see what changes come, it is time for me to set to work and create the society I am proud of.