Retired Veteran Still Has Troops’ Backs
When Rich Brooks retired from the Army in 2005 after 27 years of service, he didn’t turn his back on the men and women who are still serving in the military and making personal sacrifices for the country. Instead, he found a way to help wounded warriors find employment and fulfilling lives after catastrophic injuries ended their tours of duty.
A few years ago, Brooks, vice president for logistics operations at Agility, was looking for a way his organization, a global leader in commercial and defense logistics, could give back to the community. He contacted Paralyzed Veterans of America about running a golf tournament to raise funds. That led to a long-term relationship between Agility and Paralyzed Veterans’ vocational rehabilitation program. The tournament has raised more than $800,000 in three years, Brooks said. Agility underwrites the event so all the proceeds go directly to the program. The fourth annual tournament is scheduled for May 23, 2011.
In addition, Agility contributed approximately $250,000 to Paralyzed Veterans’ vocational rehabilitation program in San Antonio and is also supporting a new center in Augusta, GA, that opened Nov. 18.
“I’m focused with our corporation on reaching out to other corporate leaders about putting our veterans back to work,” he said. “I personally believe this is not just about a golf tournament. This is about getting sponsors and networking with folks who can help our servicemen and servicewomen with work.”
|“I have been amazed, as I continue to reach out and spend time at Walter Reed and PVA, at the incredible talent that’s out there regardless of the disability.” — Rich Brooks, Agility
Brooks, who in 1991 served as a helicopter pilot in Desert Shield and Desert Storm and who returned to combat in Iraq and Kuwait from 2004 to 2005, often travels to Iraq and Afghanistan with Agility to work with the military efforts there. Agility is committed to hiring veterans. In fact, veterans comprise approximately 90 percent of Agility’s Defense & Government Service workforce, he said.
Other companies would benefit from hiring paralyzed veterans and tapping into the wealth of experience that military service has provided, he said. “We carry a lot as military guys, and one of the biggest things is punctuality, commitment and, certainly, loyalty, and so all those skills you learn as military guys directly improve business in the corporate world. There’s no question of the large capabilities our veterans and paralyzed veterans have.”
Brooks’ efforts to help find jobs for paralyzed veterans come with a bonus for him: self-satisfaction. “When you spend 27 years in the military and then all of a sudden you leave it and you wonder what your next connection will be, it’s become a connection for me to serve our veterans in some capacity,” he said. “I just enjoy the organization and the mission. I have been amazed, as I continue to reach out and spend time at Walter Reed and PVA, at the incredible talent that’s out there regardless of the disability.”
Employers who want to learn more about hiring paralyzed veterans should immediately contact Paralyzed Veterans and the closest vocational rehabilitation center for more information, Brooks said. “Just the emphasis, in my view, is you have to be committed and you have to be involved—more involved than committed. I encourage corporations across the country to reach out, connect and get involved. It doesn’t take a lot of time and it doesn’t take a lot of effort. With the power of many and the more they are involved, the more the program will improve and will help veterans.”
Julie Britt is a freelance writer & editor in the Washington, D.C., area.
Read more about the Paralyzed Veterans' Vocational Rehabilitation Program>