BY CYNTHIA GRIFFITH: For Complete Post, click here…
The Tie Between Veterans with Disabilities, the Disappearance of Retail Employment, and Homelessness.
Close your eyes for just a moment and imagine. I know it’s early, and you’ve barely finished your morning coffee. Or maybe it’s late, and you feel overloaded from the workday. I promise that by the end of this exercise, whatever you’re doing right now will seem much less burdensome.
Picture yourself back in high school. Remember the way that hard cold desk used to feel when you fell asleep halfway through watching Bill Nye the Science Guy’s experiments? Remember the smell of the pencil sharpener, that funny feeling of walking into the cafeteria on the first day wondering who had the same lunch timeslot from your group of friends?
Now, imagine you’re in twelfth grade. You’re nervous and even a little bit excited. Not just about the prom coming or the turkey squares the cafeteria lady’s getting ready to plop on your tray. No. You’re nervous and a little bit excited about your future.
In the hallway, you come across a decorated military officer who strikes up a conversation right along the lines of what you’re already thinking. Of course, he does. He’s trained to work with adolescents, to meet them, take them out, talk to them about their future, and eventually get them to enlist. There are so many benefits for veterans. Why wouldn’t you enlist? It’s a free education, lots of financial perks, the military opens doors that would otherwise be closed for an individual of your social status, etc.
You have nothing to worry about. You’ll only have to fight if there’s a war. And how often do those happen?
Your young mind is unaware of the bombs going off in far-flung territories. Soon, you will be right in the middle of that action. It happens fast. First the enlistment, next the training, and suddenly there you are, praying for your life in a foxhole. Gunfire takes your right arm in an event so horrific you will replay it in your head over and over again for years to come.
You return from war disabled, unmarried, staring at your former prom date on Facebook. Life is less exciting in the aisles of retail, but you’re still somewhat grateful to have a job.
But then, something unexpected happens yet again. An international health crisis puts employment on freeze. You are sent home from your retail employment position and promised unemployment. You wait a whole year to see that first check. Your rent is in arrears. You are on the brink of homelessness, a different kind of war.
Now open your eyes. Understand that this scenario might not be happening to you, but it is happening to veterans all across the country. If there’s one thing we all learned in elementary education, it’s that numbers never lie.
Here’s what the stats look like for disabled veterans working retail employment occupations in 2021.