Topic: COMMUNITY INTEREST
As American's we watched during the World Series and we saw that Walmart spend millions of dollars. They focused on advertising aimed at getting Americans to display green outdoor lights to honor Veterans.
So, how much money will Walmart make by selling green outdoor lights? And, of course, how much did that commercial cost? I apologize if I appear to be too cynical.
If you read Walmart’s press release about the initiative it actually has less emphasis on the “display a green light” and more emphasis on their support for many Veteran related charitable organizations. And, Walmart has hired some retired General to be in charge of the program so it must be in touch with Veterans, right? Why is it that a phone call to two Hamilton Walmart's yielded employees with no idea what the Greenlight for Veterans Project was? How can this be?
Watching the commercial, however, many Americans would be right to conclude that they are doing their part or just doing “good” by merely displaying a green light.
The truth is we have seen this before. It is nothing new. Years ago displaying yellow ribbons was a very nice gesture. Then it was magnetic yellow ribbons on cars. It used to be that just displaying the American Flag was all that was needed and for me that remains true. To make an impact on veterans it takes more than a green light or yellow ribbon.
To be clear, there are many people doing great things for Veterans. Many people do and will give large amounts to many great Veterans causes and organizations. I expect this will happen regardless of the number of green lights that are turned on. And, Walmart is indeed doing good things for Veterans.
The bottom line is that I am indeed skeptical about the motivations of Walmart and others. Here is why:
- The VA is still broken and dysfunctional. And, now, some Presidential candidates have made it acceptable to accuse the press and anybody else who makes that statement of being politically partisan just for stating that fact.
- Are all these Veteran programs really helping to provide Veterans with a voice? Are people spending more time listening to and understanding the concerns of Veterans?
- There is a great deal of focus on the “returning Veteran” but in the year 2015 what does that term even mean? Veterans have been “returning” for 15 years ….
- Is hiring a Veteran for an entry level position something that deserves recognition and praise from the rest of America, like at Walmart? Should Companies be boasting about hiring people who are qualified? Are these marketing campaigns or are they public service initiatives?
- PTSD is indeed a problem, and for many, now overcoming the “stigma” and “label” is as much of a problem as the symptoms themselves.
The one thing I can say with certainty is that displaying a green light outside my home will not help to solve the problems. If anything it will provide many ordinary Americans – even many well intentioned ones – with the message that by displaying that green light they have helped to solve the problems. So it all stops right there or maybe it starts a conversation.
If you display the light as a government official, and do nothing to start the conversation in your own administration to implement job programs that focus on veterans, then don't bother. It will be viewed as just another gimmick. This was the word used by the mayor during the elections as it pertained to debates, they were just gimmicks. So we will use her word, don't put up green bulbs as a gimmick.
Hamilton, NJ is going “green”, they state it is for more than environmental reasons. This environmental comment is quite perplexing. This is the same administration that destroyed wetlands with the expansion of a private police gun range in a residential area. An administration that is negligent in recycling in the parks and government buildings.
The Township stated that they will join in the ‘Greenlight A Vet’ campaign. They will do so by displaying green lights at the Municipal Building, Health Division Building and Recreation Division Building.
This is the same administration during the Memorial Day parade, pushed veterans aside to be the lead in the town parade because it was an election year. They walked with their backs to the American flag the entire parade length. Its incomprehensible that any elected official would behave in this manner. To be this disrespectful of verterans is outrageous.
Hamilton will soon be home to two Walmart locations, including a Super Walmart that the administrations feels will help revitalize the town’s former Suburban Plaza retail center and become known as the Court at Hamilton. Walmart has pledged to hire 250,000 veterans by the year 2020.
How many vets has Mayor Yaede hired since her inception into municipal government? What policies has she written to ensure she and her hiring managers are actively pursuing veterans in their hiring practices? One will find this initiative has been developed as well as a representation of diversity in her cabinet. The Hamilton municipal government is quite white, lacking diversity.
Duffy's Cultural Couture recently did a story focused on Walmart and their selection process for implementation of new stores. Neighborhoods that gain Super Walmart stores end up with more poverty and food-stamp usage than communities where the retailer does not open, a Walmart’s arrival leads to a net loss of jobs and lowers wages, according to research by economists at the University of California-Irvine and Cornell. Is this where we want our veterans working, to strive for poverty level jobs?
No one believes Veterans should be “offended” by people putting up green lights and we are not questioning the fact that Walmart does give a considerable amount of money for Veteran issues. They are hiring veterans.
However, unfortunately, the problem of Veteran Unemployment will not be resolved by re-branding the yellow ribbon campaign or by coining a new phrase such as “greenlighting.”
The Reality – There are many Veterans who find themselves unemployed despite the numerous programs that corporate America and the VA have initiated to address the problem. Somewhere there is a very large disconnect. A central “portal” or registry for Veterans who are unemployed does NOT exist.
Young Vets Get Help – Many corporate efforts and VA programs use Veterans to fill their most basic, entry level, ground floor positions. This is a good as it provides opportunity for those young Veterans who leave the military after their first tour. And, it is well deserved since it is the young men and women who enlist that face the greatest hardship and challenges among those who serve in harm’s way. From a private sector perspective, it is also a “no-brainer” for companies to recruit and hire these younger veterans because they are often far more qualified for just about any entry level position than their civilian counterparts.
But, Let’s Be Real — These young Veterans account for only a small segment of the total Veteran group in the US. This is because we are a Nation with an all-volunteer force that relies on high levels of retention to maintain a high level of professionalism. As a result, a large number of “Veterans” do not leave the service until they have attained a higher level of seniority and experience. So, those Veterans are not in a position to re-start their lives with entry level positions.
Defense Sector Downsizing – Perhaps the most “Veteran” friendly sector within corporate America has traditionally been the Defense & Aerospace industry which has always welcomed and recruited senior level military professionals. However, that market has been extremely hard hit with layoffs and reductions in force over the past five years. Those Veterans who had spent their entire non-military professional career in that sector can find it very challenging to transition to new industries. None of the VA programs or corporate efforts that I am aware of are focused on this part of the problem.
Misperceptions – It is impossible to say how much the perceptions within “civilian” worlds about PTSD or the adaptability of the “warrior” culture into their workforce play into the problems facing Veterans seeking employment. Nobody wants to believe that these are actually significant factors. But, the reality is that most Veterans have too many stories about ridiculous interview questions and even instances of blatant discrimination. At a minimum, while all Americans are impacted by the subtle yet real issue of “age discrimination” in our workforce, Veterans ages 40-60 years are particularly at risk.
No More Pandering – Ultimately, it is extremely frustrating for Veterans to hear about all the programs, sponsorships and money being spent to help solve these problems while still being unable to find meaningful employment. Veterans do not expect any special hand-outs. But, Veterans do expect that if companies and organizations are going to talk the talk, at some point they should actually walk the walk instead of just saying great things or making heart throbbing commercials. Executive leaders should look at their hiring practices and question hiring managers to ensure that Veterans are indeed being “greenlighted” before they hold themselves out as being supportive of Veterans.
Hamilton township, under the Yaede administration has not demonstrated an active focus on the hiring of veterans. We have not been able to obtain any policy written that focuses on this type of initiative either. We only hope that these green light bulbs turn other light bulbs on in the heads of the administration to really focus on the needs of the veterans in Hamilton, NJ. A green light bulb cannot do that. Walk the Walk Hamilton, not just talk the talk.
The color green can mean, jealously, possessiveness, or materialistic, a need to own people or objects. Without a plan in the Yaede administration, then the only meaning residents can see is the one stated here in this paragraph. This is not what veterans want, need or deserve.