On November 9, during the week when we celebrate Veterans Day 2011, I was invited to the White House to be recognized as a Champion of Change in America. This recognition is a result of several initiatives undertaken by the American Logistics Association to support employment opportunities for veterans and military family members as an initiative in support of the Joining Forces program under the leadership of the First Lady.
I am honored to receive this recognition but I must share it with exceptional leaders in the military resale business channel that day in and day out for over 100 years have been taking care of our military and their families. What we are talking about here are the retail stores on military bases around the world that go where the troops go and give back every day. The commissary, the exchange retail outlets, the veterans canteen stores in the VA hospitals, the morale, welfare and recreation programs that provide a touch of home to our troops all around the world are the single largest employer of military family members in the world. It is their leadership that helped bring this issue to the forefront.
The relationship between the companies that support the military stores and these resale commands is the best example in the art of the possible with a public private venture in America. When companies are exposed to the contributions of our military, the military family and our veterans they want to step up with support. This is the case here. The military family, the military community, the military allegiance to friends, the commitment to volunteerism in the military are just a few attributes that can be benchmarks for America. Colin Powell recently wrote that the military is a family you never leave. During this week we recognize their contribution to out nation…but we can do more.
The American Logistics Association support for the Joining Forces program is a perfect combination of leadership by the White House for a community that has a history of supporting our military families and our veterans. This program is a direct result of the leadership of the First Lady, Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. They need to be recognized for their exceptional leadership in raising the awareness of this important issue in America.
The American Logistics Association wants to set a positive example for American on the value of employing military family members and veterans…it is just good business. Our veterans are trained leaders used to difficult assignments in difficult situations. They are loyal, dedicated and professional. Military family members serve under the same stress as a deployed spouse, they move often in support of the mission, know how to effectively network and are used to supporting others. The key opportunity is to raise the awareness of the value of hiring veterans and military family members and get the job opportunities posted on easy to access sites to bring the two parties together. We have received numerous inquiries from around the nation on how individual support groups can get involved in supporting this great initiative. I think it is important to recognize that we do not have to reinvent the wheel when we have focused efforts already in this area. The National Resource Directory established by the White House is a good example of existing resources that can assist in this worthwhile initiative.
This is an effort that is good for business and good for America. I am proud to get up every morning and go to work with the realization that our association has stepped up to support the most important members in our society… the military family members and veterans who have put their needs secondary to our freedom… We can not do enough for them.
Let’s use this veterans’ day as a bully pulpit to raise the awareness of the value of military family members and veterans to America. The greatest value I feel we were able to add with the American Logistics Association support for the Joining Forces initiative is to raise the awareness in America of how industry and government can work effectively together to deliver key benefits to our military and in turn support our nation.
Patrick B. Nixon is President of the American Logistics Association (ALA), headquartered in Washington DC.