Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
Idaho veterans and veterans service providers have been among those assisting with hurricane recovery and other emergency response. Staff from the Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center headed to Puerto Rico to assist. Area veterans and veterans service providers have skills of great use in a variety of fields, especially emergency response. They are highly trained, hard workers, who above all, have a deep personal understanding of what service means. They know what it is to overcome extreme conditions, fatigue and exhaustion to work together to assist others and save lives. Astute government agencies and organizations recognize this and tap into the skills of area veterans and military personnel to the benefit of our communities.
The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has recruited veterans for its wildland fire crews recognizing that they have strong leadership, communication, team work, logistical abilities, emergency medicine and more necessary for effective fire response. The BLM reports that, “People who work with these Veterans report that they are dedicated, first-rate fire crews who have transferred their love of public service to protecting America’s public lands.” Similarly, the U.S. Forest Service recruits veterans for wildland firefighting programs, such as the Veterans Fire Corps.
Time and time again, veterans step up to serve others. They are often among the first ones in our communities to offer a helping hand. From welcoming returning veterans to assisting with navigating veterans services to providing listening ears and warm meals, veterans are consistently there and serving with extraordinary dedication and know-how.
We can all learn from the devoted service of veterans and help to honor their service by following their examples and helping to advance opportunities to leverage their talents in our communities. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides resources for veterans and others to volunteer. These include opportunities for businesses to start company-sponsored volunteer opportunities to assist veterans and students to obtain experience and training while assisting veterans at VA medical centers. There are also opportunities to assist with providing transportation for veterans seeking medical services, participating in welcome home events for returning veterans and more. Information about these volunteer programs can be accessed at www.volunteer.va.gov. At www.va.gov/jobs/, the VA also provides resources aimed at employing the great experience of veterans in our nation’s workforce.
As we celebrate veterans and their service during Veterans Day this month, I will be focusing my guest columns on honoring veterans’ service through effectively employing their skills and experience when they return home and ensuring access to resources that support their service and reflect their commitment to our nation.
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