VIENNA, Va. (NNS) -- The Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV), Commandant of the Marine Corps and other Department of the Navy (DoN) leaders met with government officials and members of private industry at the 2nd Annual Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Conference in Vienna, Va., Nov. 9.
Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) hosted the conference at the Sheraton Premiere to discuss best practices and the most up-to-date information for hiring our nation's heroes, according to Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Juan Garcia, whose office sponsored the event.
"We're all here, ultimately to address a legacy question of our time, of our generation," Garcia said during his speech officially beginning the event. "What did we do to successfully reintegrate the wounded? The Department of the Navy's approach has been that, if we're going to ask the private sector - especially in this challenging economic environment - to hire the wounded, then it follows that we should lead the way."
The next speaker, Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy commander of Naval Sea System Command (NAVSEA), talked about his command's dedication to doing that. NAVSEA set a goal to hire a wounded warrior for each day of fiscal 2011, which it exceeded, hiring 509 in that period and 792 total to date.
"At the end of this conference, I want to be able to say that there will not be any wounded warrior out there who wants a job that will not have a job," said McCoy. "We will find any wounded warrior who wants one - not just a job, a career - we will not stop until they have it."
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos talked about meeting with Marines and Sailors in Iraq and Afghanistan to remind them why they served there. He said the service members there did not complain and were proud of the progress made and eager to stay until the mission was complete.
"They smell success. But with that comes a price," Amos said. "In Iraq, we lost 851 Marines killed in action. As of this morning, we've lost 317 killed in action in Afghanistan. The total number of wounded exceeds 12,000.
"One-fourth [of the wounded] is severely wounded. The other three-quarters, for the most part, gets patched up. A few months later, they're back - they want to get back to their units. It's hard to imagine young men and women are that resilient, but they are. They have the ability to heal."
Amos then compared the national unemployment rate of about 9.5 percent to the higher rate among all veterans - 11.5 percent - and that among veterans since Sept. 11, 2001 - 26.9 percent.
"If it was your child who was unemployed, it would be very personal to you," Amos said. "It would be something you would pay very particular attention to."
SECNAV Ray Mabus said that was just what he and DoN leaders intended to do, with groups like Navy Safe Harbor, the Wounded Warrior Regiment meeting for a common cause - to train, recruit, hire and retain these warriors.
"If you look at the wounded warriors we have today - the dedication, the talent, the skill, everything that they do - you cannot find a better person to work with your company than a wounded warrior," Mabus said. "We are doing this for wounded warriors, but if companies will hire them, those companies will be the ones that benefit and America will benefit too."
The conference continues through Nov. 10. To register or learn more about the conference, visit http://www.public.navy.mil/donaa/Pages/woundedwarrior.aspx.
Secretary Ray Mabus video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjeT0ulMsQM&feature=related.
ASN(M&RA) Juan M. Garcia III video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4yJEH-tsng&feature=related.
For service-disabled veterans interested in employment opportunities at NAVSEA, and other government agencies interested in supporting NAVSEA's wounded warrior hiring office, contact Cmdr. David McAfee at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 781-1364.
For more news, visit www.navy.mil.