National Invest In Veterans Week, celebrated across the United States, is a significant initiative that acknowledges and supports the transition of military veterans into civilian life. The week, occurring annually every March shines a spotlight on the value of hiring veterans and their entrepreneurial journey. The insights of Bruce Thompson, a Marine Corps veteran, along with endorsements from various political figures and organizations, all championing the cause of veteran integration into the workforce through National Invest In Veterans Week, speak volumes about the impact of NIVW’s multidimensional veteran advocacy.
The Montana Proclamation: A Milestone for Veteran Advocacy
In a significant development during #InvestInVeteransWeek 2023, Montana’s Governor Greg Gianforte issued a proclamation, setting a precedent for state-level support for veterans. This proclamation recognized the sacrifices and contributions of veterans and emphasized the state’s commitment to veteran employment and entrepreneurship. The document served as a formal acknowledgment of the importance of integrating veterans into the workforce and the broader community. Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Rickey L. Pope, who serves as NIVW’s Director of Veteran Impact, stated, “This week is a strategic step toward fulfilling the White House’s goals for veteran employment. It’s more than a commemoration; it’s a call to action for businesses and communities to recognize the invaluable assets that veterans are in the civilian sector.”
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The proclamation garnered widespread attention and was a pivotal moment in the week. It inspired other states to consider similar measures, creating a ripple effect across the nation. Montana’s initiative underscored the critical role of state governments in supporting veterans and set the stage for more systemic and long-lasting support mechanisms for veterans transitioning to civilian careers.
The Tangible Impact of #InvestInVeteransWeek
As of October 2023, the unemployment rate for veterans stood at an impressive 2.7%, a notable decrease from rates above 3.5% in the preceding two months. This marked improvement was not just a statistical victory but a testament to the concerted efforts spurred by initiatives like #InvestInVeteransWeek. The week’s events, combined with the actions of states like Montana and South Carolina, played a crucial role in creating more inclusive and supportive environments for veterans.
The decrease in unemployment rates among veterans highlighted the effectiveness of these initiatives. It demonstrated that when given the right opportunities and support, veterans could successfully transition into the civilian workforce and entrepreneurship, bringing valuable skills and experiences. Regarding the positive impact of National Invest In Veterans Week from 2019 to the present, nationally syndicated columnist, Iraq War Veteran, Military Spouse, and co-founder Jeff Shuford stated, “The success of #InvestInVeteransWeek in reducing veteran unemployment rates to 2.7% is a testament to the power of targeted support and advocacy. It’s a clear indication that when given the right opportunities, veterans excel in the civilian workforce, bringing a unique set of skills and experiences that benefit our economy and society.” #InvestInVeteransWeek and its aftermath served as a powerful reminder of the societal and economic benefits of investing in our veterans, paving the way for a more inclusive and prosperous future for those who have served.
Bruce Thompson: A Veteran’s Perspective on Career Transition and Leadership
Bruce Thompson, a Marine Corps veteran and recipient of the Trailblazer in Veteran Hiring Award, has become a prominent figure in advocating for veteran transition into civilian life. His experiences shared on Buzz TV with host Jeff Shuford, co-founder of Invest In Veterans Week, and the FloridaVeterans.com Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, reflect the adaptability and resilience of veterans. Thompson’s own journey was a pivot from his military role, requiring him to translate his military skills into civilian terms. He notes, “I was a career changer so what I did in service was not what I wanted to do once I transitioned… I had to take some of those soft skills… and put them into a resume.” This transition highlights the versatility and resourcefulness inherent in many veterans.
Thompson also emphasizes the unique qualities that veterans bring to the workforce: “From the first year you’re in service, you’re in charge of millions of dollars of equipment… we’re very attention to detail, we’re organized… most of us have had a chance to talk to people more senior than we expected… those soft skills definitely come across.” His insights underscore the value veterans add to civilian organizations. Beyond his own transition, Thompson has dedicated himself to supporting others in similar situations. As an advocate for military, veterans, and military spouses, he addresses the challenges of transitioning to civilian life. His personal experience, marked by nearly a year of uncertainty post-service, fueled his commitment to aiding others in this process. He stresses the importance of mentorship and dialogue in navigating this journey, actively participating as a mentor on the Veterati platform to provide guidance and support.
In his current role as the Executive Director of The ASCEND Collective, Thompson fosters an environment of collaboration over competition. He leverages an AI-powered platform to match candidates with employers, focusing on skill-based alignment rather than traditional job-seeking methods. The ASCEND Collective, under his leadership, caters to a diverse range of communities, including those with disabilities (Ability ASCEND), individuals with justice involvement (Mission2ASCEND), and the military and veteran community (Veterans ASCEND). Thompson’s involvement extends to creating inclusive and supportive environments through various initiatives, such as the DOD SkillBridge Internship program. His active participation in hiring events, conferences, and community projects positions him as a significant figure in the veteran community. His expertise in networking, career management, and personal development is invaluable to many transitioning veterans.
Bruce Thompson’s story is a powerful testament to the perseverance, empathy, and empowerment of veterans. His work aligns seamlessly with the ethos of National Invest In Veterans Week, highlighting the ongoing need to support veterans in their post-service life. His journey and accomplishments serve as an inspiring model for how veterans can continue to lead and make substantial contributions to society after their military service.
Political Endorsements: Recognizing the Contributions of Veterans
Senator Tracy Pennycuick, a veteran and small business owner, underlines the importance of National Invest in Veterans Week: “Although National Invest in Veterans Week has come to a close, as a veteran that owns a small business, it is important for me to acknowledge this important week. I invite you to join me in honoring and celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit of our veterans.” Representative Matt Rosendale also praises veteran entrepreneurs: “Veterans are among America’s most industrious workers and successful entrepreneurs. Please join me in always supporting veteran business leaders like Shield Arms owner Seth Berglee, but especially during National Invest in Veterans Week.”
Governor Greg Gianforte encourages support for veteran-owned businesses: “It’s always a good time to support our veteran-owned businesses. This Invest in Veterans Week, I encourage folks to support veterans who served our country and now lead in business, like Willie Blazer of Willie’s Distillery in Ennis.” Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen highlights the sacrifices of veterans: “They sacrificed their lives to protect our freedoms; we can show them our gratitude by supporting them every day! Highlight your favorite veteran-owned business, like 1889 Coffeehouse, this National Invest In Veterans Week!” Reflecting on the multidimensional impact, co-founder Jeff Shuford stated, “Seeing states like Montana and South Carolina take legislative action to support veteran employment during #InvestInVeteransWeek is incredibly encouraging. It demonstrates a growing awareness and commitment at all levels of government to ensure that our veterans have the support they need to thrive after service.”
Community Engagement and Support
The Douglas County, Oregon, celebration led by Commissioners Tim Freeman, Chris Boice, and Tom Kress, involved honoring local businesses and individuals for their roles in supporting veteran businesses. This local effort reflects a broader national movement to recognize and support veterans in the workforce.
Businesses Championing Veteran Employment
Businesses recognized for hiring veterans, like Michael Kurtz at Douglas County Government and John Phillips at Roseburg VA, demonstrate the significant impact of integrating veterans into various professional sectors.
Veteran-Owned Businesses as Pillars of Entrepreneurship
Veteran-owned businesses, such as Source One Serenity and Logger’s Pizza, showcase the entrepreneurial spirit thriving among veterans. These businesses contribute significantly to the economy and serve as inspiration for aspiring veteran entrepreneurs.
A National Call to Action
Congresswoman Kat Cammack expresses her support: “This week, we’re taking a moment to honor our #FL03 veteran entrepreneurs for National Invest in Veterans Week! Our veterans make significant contributions and sacrifices in service to our nation, and throughout the week, we invite you to join us in honoring the men and women who have selflessly served our country and now lead in business.” Dan Newhouse for Congress emphasizes the respect veterans deserve: “Our veterans put their lives on the line for our freedom, and they deserve the highest honor and respect when they return home. Join me in celebrating #InvestInVeteransWeek by supporting veterans in our communities.”
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer also recognizes the importance of supporting veterans: “The first week of March we observe National Invest in Veterans Week. This week, we take the time to invest in the Veteran population by doing things such as supporting veteran-owned businesses, educational development, and mental health empowerment. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office thanks all Veterans for their service.”
National Invest In Veterans Week is a powerful testament to the skills, dedication, and leadership that veterans bring to our communities and workforces. It’s a call to businesses, organizations, and individuals to recognize, hire, and support veterans, not just during this week but year-round. The celebration and acknowledgment of this week set a precedent for ongoing efforts to integrate veterans into the civilian workforce, ensuring they continue to contribute their invaluable skills and experiences to our society.