CUMBERLAND —Wearing yellow ribbons and attending honorary luncheons are nice, but if you really want to help service members transition back to civilian life, help them get jobs.
That’s the message Lt. Gen. Dennis McCarthy, former commander of Marine Forces Reserve and a former assistant secretary of defense, gave to members of the business community during the 61st Annual Military Affairs Luncheon sponsored by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce in late May.
The government, McCarthy said, has a role in assisting with the transition.
“The Department of Defense, in my opinion, has not done as much as it should in the area of transition assistance, in smoothing out that transition, in really preparing people who are leaving active duty to make the next step,” McCarthy said.
The Lt. general said the U.S. Department of Labor could do a better job as well.
McCarthy called on the business community to use its economic strength to provide the kind of opportunities that help young people transfer from wearing the uniform to reintegrating into the civilian workforce.
To the employers, McCarthy said his message is, “Hey folks, it’s payback time. These people have done a lot for us. They’ve done a lot to create the conditions of freedom and opportunity in this country. It’s time to pay them back.”
The best way to support the troops is to ensure they have the resources needed on the battlefield. And — when they do come home help — them reintegrate with their community, he said.
After the lunch, county Chairman Tim Lee said when a reservist who works for his government is called to active duty, the policy is to place a hold on that position until the service member returns.
“We continue to pay our folks while they’re serving for any difference between the amount of money they get as a service person and the amount that they get with their position with Cobb County,” Lee said.
The county also places a priority on hiring veterans, Lee said.