In 2004, Mark and Tori Baird got a knock on their door from a Marine who’d just returned from Iraq. As in, that day.
While the Marine was serving, his wife had been laid off, and upon returning home, he discovered his wife and small children were living without electricity. Hoping to make the $100 to get their electricity turned back on, the soldier was wondering if the Bairds had any jobs around the house he could do to earn the cash.
Mark and Tori offered the Marine $100. He refused to accept charity, so they found him work around the house.
Five hours later, the Marine left with $100, and the idea of “Hire Marines” was born. It took the form of a job board the Bairds created to help area Marines find odd jobs. As the site took off, Mark and Tori eventually received a call from the Admiral of the Navy who wanted to see if sailors could also use the service. The Bairds said, “Yes,” and they renamed their web site Hire Patriots with the goal of finding jobs for veterans.
Hire Patriots is now a nation-wide job board where veterans and their spouses can find one-day jobs and full-time jobs. The one-day jobs are to earn extra money; for many veterans those one-day jobs make the difference between being able to pay their bills and feed their family or not.
Although the site has filled over 100,000 jobs, it’s about more than just finding jobs for veterans. It’s about changing lives. Veterans routinely have significant financial stress and as anyone searching for a job let alone switching careers knows, it takes time to find a job. Having work as well as the ability to care for yourself while seeking full time employment is integral to fitting back into civilian life and maintaining your dignity.
Tori Baird says, “We didn’t start this because we wanted a job. We didn’t start this because we wanted a job board. We started this because there was a need.” In fact, the Bairds are retired. Like other entrepreneurs serving veterans, the Bairds built this nonprofit because of their passion to serve.
President Bush recognized he Bairds with the Congressional Medal for Merit and President Obama recognized them with the President’s Volunteer Service Medal, but the Bairds still struggle to meet the demand for jobs.
The need for Hire Patriots is bigger than it’s ever been. “We are currently having a troop drawback causing a tsunami of need,” Tori explains. “You have tens and tens of thousands of veterans getting out of the military. Lots of people getting forced out. And they need to support themselves and their families.”
Baird says the demand for jobs is so high that a one-day job listing on the site can receive 40 responses within ten minutes of getting posted. She encourages everyone to look around their homes for odd jobs and to post those jobs. That’s how we can all thank our veterans.
In fact our odd jobs can be what allows veterans to stay afloat. Sergeant Bryan Wiggins came back from his third tour in Iraq and his mortgage was in arrears. Although Wiggins had a full time job, it wasn’t enough to get him out of debt. He went to the Navy Relief Office and they suggested he check out Hire Patriots. Wiggins took every one-day job he could – 244 over a 3-year time span – until he could pull his family out of debt.
As Baird says, our veterans are proud hard-working men and women. They want to support themselves, and giving them a means to do that can be life changing during the difficult period of re-entering civilian life.
You can also donate and volunteer -the organization needs more people on the ground to, among other things, get the word out to friends and neighbors about the need for one-day jobs for veterans on the site. Donations are also important – for one thing the site needs upgrades that could help serve many more Veterans.
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