Earlier this month, I had the honor of attending the Opening Ceremonies of the Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo. The Warrior Games are an annual event in which injured, ill or disabled veterans from the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Marines, Special Operations Command and the British Armed Forces compete in Paralympics. From my time in the Army, I am fully aware of the strength of character, commitment to excellence and unbending determination of our service men and women, yet I have to say that what I saw at these games still managed to take my breath away.
I was also in royal company; I had the pleasure of meeting Prince Harry, who is a passionate young man with deep respect for military men and women from his time serving in Afghanistan – even if he was cheering for the wrong squad vying for the coveted Chairman’s Cup. The Marines successfully defended their title and took this year’s cup.
But the final medal count is far from the true measure of these games’ significance. I witnessed the kind of skill, speed and teamwork that demonstrates the true spirit of military excellence and camaraderie. More than 200 wounded warriors tested their physical limits and performed astonishing feats in events like basketball, swimming, track and field, archery and volleyball. What these courageous individuals achieved was every bit as amazing as the accomplishments of athletes without disabilities, and I will remember the exhilaration, the drama – and most of all, the smiles – I experienced there for a long time.
The games also reinforced one of the core beliefs that drive our work at the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service: for our veterans, there is no “impossible.” There is no limit to what we are capable of, even when we are forced to overcome tremendous obstacles to succeed. That’s true on both the athletic field and in the workplace. It is part of our job at the Labor Department to help show employers just how much veterans can contribute to the success of their companies. I wish I could send them all to see what I saw in Colorado Springs: focused, driven willpower to overcome challenges and get the job done.
I am proud to work for an agency that is leading the charge to provide employment services to veterans and reduce unemployment. For wounded and disabled veterans, we offer expanded career services in our network of nearly 2,700 American Jobs Centers across the country. We also provide workers and employers with resources for accommodating wounded veterans in our America’s Heroes at Work Toolkit. We are stepping up to help every veteran looking for work find a good job, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because our businesses and our economy will benefit from the leadership and resolve that veterans bring to the workplace.
The only thing that stops us is the finish line.
Keith Kelly is the assistant secretary of labor for veterans’ employment and training.