no spam, unsubscribe anytime.
With the national unemployment rate hanging around 9% and the economy acting like a drugged three-toed sloth, barely moving at all, the immediate prospects for employment are challenging for everybody, but particularly for our returning veterans.
Statistics are notoriously frustrating as they are often used to promote particular perspectives. You can make them do what ever you want them to do. Knowing this I searched for recent unemployment rates for the current Gulf War veterans and found a range of stats given by various news outlets and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The general unemployment rates for Gulf War era veterans ranged from 10.9% to as high as 14.7%. The unemployment rates for veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 were listed in April of 2011 at 27%, as compared to non-veteran 18- to 24-year-olds who came in at 17.4%. In any case, the unemployment rates for veterans today are considerably higher than those of the non-veteran populations.
Given the economy and the current political environment, these rates may very well get worse in the near future. With this in mind I think we need to be much more creative and focused in trying to turn things in a more positive direction for our returning veterans, and for the general economy. I recently came across a marvelous example of this creative entrepreneurship and job creation that I would like to share with you here. The best part of this story is that it is a Marine Corps veteran who is the creator of this example.
Lavish Laines Vineyard is the start-up business venture of Marine Corps veteran, Josh Laines. He did two tours in Iraq, and started his adventure in the wine business in 2007 after leaving the Marine Corps at the age of twenty-five.
Josh Laine started his wine business in an old, rusty van, making about twenty-five cases a year. In order to cut his costs, he manages vineyards for other wineries. Those vineyard owners, in return, give him grapes to make his own wine. Since 2007 he has also acquired about ten acres of his own land near Livermore, California and has begun growing his own grapes.
Here's the great part of the story. Josh Laine considers the wine business a family business. For him, his family is his fellow veterans. They are his brothers and sisters. The wine business, then, is the means he uses to meet his vision of creating jobs for veterans. So far he has hired some thirty Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, from all the military branches, to work with him in this intimate business.
The veterans who work for him find a place of peace and acceptance to make a living in. They find the old comradeship that they had known in the military, and they get to work in the peaceful environment of natural beauty. On top of that, they receive a good paycheck to boot. The Lavish Laines Vineyard is now producing some 3,000 cases of wine annually and the business is growing. Laine wants to expand into Nevada and Oregon. This is good for his business and for more of our returning veterans.
Laine says that veterans don't need micromanaging. They know how to act responsibly and independently. He says that, "A lot of them have a lot of things to talk about. They don't talk to family, definitely not spouses, moms or dads, because they don't want them to worry."
I've been writing about the need for jobs for veterans over the past year. I've also suggested that we, as a society, need to be more creative and entrepreneurial about doing this. Well, here is a veteran, a former Marine, who has found a way to be both creative and entrepreneurial, and he is making a difference for veterans, giving them the opportunity to make a decent profit together. This is a veteran taking the bull by the horns, and turning a dream into a reality for himself and his fellow veterans. We can learn from him.
Use Josh Laine as a model for your own creativity, your own entrepreneurial ideas. This is what the economy needs and what our veterans need. I hope that Josh Laine and his Lavish Laines Winery grow into one of the more productive and well known in the industry. I hope so for him and for the veterans that are helping him in the effort. They have found a home and a place to work with the soil, in the wide open spaces of nature. They have found healing, and a means of making a decent living.
Josh Laine says, "I've been shot, blown up and stabbed. So I've had it all, but you know what? I'm still here, still alive." We say, "Amen to that!" This is a great story.