Hire Heroes USA: Opportunities for injured vets

Carl Meyer golfs 115 holes to raise money for nonprofit

Improved medical techniques on the battlefield have allowed U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive injuries at a far higher rate than their predecessors. That’s the good news. The bad news is that more soldiers are returning to the States with service-related disabilities, which can make finding a job difficult. Hire Heroes USA is a non-profit organization designed to help those veterans finding meaningful employment. In the first two years of its existence, the organization has helped 182 of them do just that.

“Hire Heroes is giving these guys and gals a chance at the American dream, which they were willing to fight for,” says Carl Meyer, vice president of national accounts and channel relations for BSN Medical Inc., and an avid supporter of the organization. In fact, as he did last year, Meyer engaged in a marathon 4th of July golfing event to raise money for it. From 5:30 a.m. to 5:39 p.m., he golfed 115 holes at Chenequa Country Club in Chenequa, Wis., raising $43,600 in the process. “We had contributions from over 220 people in 37 or 38 states,” he says. That was a leap over last year’s golf marathon, in which he raised $15,000.

How it works
The need for a service such as Hire Heroes USA is greater than ever. For every American soldier killed in Iraq, 16 have been wounded, according to the organization. (In comparison, the ratio was 2.6 wounded per fatality in the Vietnam conflict.) An estimated one in four soldiers has a service-connected disability when returning home from Iraq or Afghanistan. Common injuries include traumatic brain injuries, amputations and blindness. The unemployment rate among the nation’s 2.5 million service-disabled men and women is 15.8 percent – or three times that of the general population.

To use the service, veterans of the Iraqi and Afghanistan campaigns are invited to register free of charge with Hire Heroes at www.hireheroesusa.org. They fill out pertinent information and supply a resume. (Hire Heroes USA works closely with transition and Veterans Administration rehabilitation centers to identify disabled veterans who are seeking career placement services.) Meanwhile, interested companies let Hire Heroes know what kind of position they are seeking to fill. (The service is free to them as well.) The prospective employer can evaluate the candidates in a number of ways, such as geographic location or skill sets. And Hire Heroes USA has staff and volunteers to facilitate the match-making process.

“We’re spreading the word that Hire Heroes USA is helping veterans, especially wounded veterans, transition from the military to the civilian workforce,” says Meyer. “I’m telling employers, ‘When you’re looking for employees, you look at internal candidates first, and you ask your employees if they know anyone who might be suitable for the job. But if you can’t find anybody that way, before you place an ad or hire a placement firm, go to Hire Heroes. It’s free, and in 20 minutes, you’ve given someone an opportunity to live the American dream while getting a loyal, highly motivated, long-term employee.”

The 4th of July outing, while fun, “was about far more than Carl Meyer playing a bunch of golf,” he says. “It’s about creating opportunities.”