My name is Mark Baird. I am the founder of HirePatriots.com. I write about everything that helps US veterans, the organizations that support them, and US small businesses.
George Washington & Veteran Unemployment
'We are going to take care of the troops, first, last and all the time' – George Marshall, 1940
Americans and our government have always cared for our wounded war veterans.
It began in 1636 in the Plymouth Rock Colony. Anyone disabled due to their defense of the colony against Indians was awarded a pension. And all of our future founding colonies followed suit. But any assistance for US veterans for getting back on their feet after being absent from the ’real world’ for years or decades has only been forthcoming when the percentage of US veterans represents significant political clout.
Knowing this fact, the solution to US veteran unemployment cannot rely upon patriotism, moral conscience nor the basic instincts of humanity for its accomplishment. Full employment for all willing and able US veterans will only be accomplished when the value of their worth to business is appreciated and sought after. Therefore, there must be a much greater coordination and certification between the US military MOS and its business counterpart. Even in the lowest ranks of the military our men and women prove that they possess the very character traits and attitudes that businesses seek.
The first major unrest of US veterans was immediately following the Revolutionary War. -- In order to encourage enlistments and to put a thumb in the crack of thousands of desertions, the Continental Congress offered half pay for life in cases of loss of limb or other serious disability. But at the war’s end the Continental Congress was severely in debt, so they refused to honor their promises to pay American Revolutionary War veterans their pay and pension benefits.
As a consequence the American Officers, in defense of themselves and their men circulated this address to those under their command:
"If this, then, be your treatment while the swords you wear are necessary to the defense of America, what have you to expect from peace, when your voice shall sink and your strength dissipate by division—when those very swords, the instruments and companions of your glory, shall be taken from your sides and no remaining mark of military distinction be left but your wants, infirmities and scars? Can you then consent to…grow old in poverty, wretchedness and contempt?"
Our greatest American and the true father of our country, General George Washington, was sympathetic to his soldiers needs and also pleaded for better treatment and for the pay owed to his men, to no avail. Still, mutiny and rebellion his honor and character could not abide. So he called a meeting of American officers to denounce anyone who supported an armed threat to the government of the American union an “insidious foe” of the Revolution.
General Washington gave a famous speech to this assembly that has been recorded for posterity. And here is a link to it in full: http://tinyurl.com/3qr3o3n
I was taught in college that it was this speech that saved America. However, there is considerable speculation that the officers were still not moved to capitulate after hearing his attempt to do so. Instead, it was not until afterwards, when Washington in a further attempt to persuade them pulled out a letter from a supportive Continental Congressman to read did their hearts break.
Washington pulled the letter from his vest, but he as squinted and tried, he was unable to read it. So he reached into a pocket for his spectacles. Then he lifted his head and humbly made this admission: "You will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country."
Not even one of his officers had ever considered that their General had ever suffered infirmity from the war. They were surprised and somewhat ashamed to see their commander fumbling about.
It was not until then that his officers because of their sympathy, love and devotion to their commander, offered a resolution and passed a unanimous agreement to preserve the union. -- His officers cast a unanimous vote, essentially agreeing to the rule of Congress. Thus, the civilian government was preserved and the experiment of democracy in America was allowed to continue.
Just as in our current wars, only 1% of the American population fought to defend our liberties. Of an estimated 2.5 million Americans at that time, no more than 30,000 at one time ever served in combat. And at most, only 250,000 in total served in the War for Independence: 1% of the population.
In an article by H.W. Brands on History.net he states: “A significant factor working against Revolutionary War veterans was their small number. The Continental Army never comprised more than 30,000 officers and men. The vast majority of Americans had nothing personal at stake in the plight of veterans after the war. Citizens who did feel the matter personally were unable to do much about it. American politics in the 18th and early 19th centuries was controlled by a small elite group of property holders. Most of the men who had filled the ranks of Washington's army could not even vote.”
At most, only 3,000 Revolutionary War veterans ever drew any pension. Later, grants of public land were made to those who served to the end of the war.
*Currently, myself and 14 other US veterans, CEOs, HR Directors and former military officers are collborating on a book for solving US veteran unemployment. This is a sample.