Among the highest duties of a grateful nation is to honor those who have fought to protect our freedoms.
Honoring our veterans is not just a matter of saluting as they march by in Fourth of July parades and thanking them for their service when we see them on the street, though such gestures are appropriate, important and appreciated.
But honoring those who have served also means going out of our way to make sure our country has a place for them when they return home from their tours of duty.
Today, in our time, there is so much more we can and should do. According to government statistics, we have nearly a million unemployed veterans from ages 18 to 64 in the United States today. Nearly a quarter of these veterans served in Iraq and Afghanistan. That means that 12 percent of the veterans of those conflicts are out of work, far higher than the national average.
Among young veterans, those 18 to 24, unemployment is over 30 percent, twice the national average for their age group.
Our veterans deserve better.
This is why we at Activision started the Call of Duty Endowment in 2009, to help veterans find work.
We have partnered with such groups as Paralyzed Veterans of America, The Wounded Warrior Project, Hire Heroes USA, Swords to Plowshares, Veterans Village of San Diego, and others, investing $5 million between 2009 and the end of last year.
The result: In part thanks to contributions from the endowment, our partner organizations have helped hire over 700 veterans, provided job training and mentorship to more than 2500 others and scholarships to still more. It has instituted scholarship programs at two community colleges – one in Texas, another in Wisconsin — that have large numbers of veterans pursuing video game development and graphic design.
Recently General James L. Jones, former National Security Advisor to President Obama and a 40-year veteran of the Marine Corps, agreed to join me as Co Chairman of the Endowment.
General Jones said, “The Call of Duty Endowment has accomplished great feats in the fight against veterans’ unemployment…. Veterans employments is an issue I am very passionate about and I am energized by the prospect of affecting change in the lives of our country’s heroes by expanding the Endowment’s efforts.
All of us involved in the Call of Duty Endowment share General Jones’ dedication to this essential cause. That is our call of duty.