Thousands of U.S. veterans have committed suicide after returning home to civilian life. This year alone, 1,892 veterans took their own life, which averages out to 22 a day. Joe Krulder could have been one of those statistics.
He was an infantry sergeant who was part of the invasion force into Iraq in March 2003. He stayed for two consecutive tours of duty and left the military in 2004. Krulder became a police officer in Florida, then managed a factory in California and, like many Americans, got laid off. Then this college graduate with a master's degree, a wife and four children, went looking for work in New York.
"All the doors were closed," says Krulder. "I had a picture of my wife and children in one hand and something else in the other. I was about to make my piece and then the phone rang."
The call was from Drexel Hamilton, an institutional broker-dealer in New York City with a mission to hire military veterans.
Its CEO is James Cahill, a Wall Street veteran who has worked at Salomon Bros, Lehman Brothers and Keefe Bruyette & Woods. He was recruited by Drexel Hamilton's founder Larry Doll, who needed money and staff to keep the firm running.
"I got hooked on the mission," Cahill tells The Daily Ticker. He and some Wall Street friends put up their own money and got to work. "We started with about three or four employees and today we're at 95 employees; half are combat veterans and 25 have been severely wounded."
For the past two years, employers had a tax incentive to hire veterans. The VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 provided tax credits for employers who hired unemployed veterans, with the biggest credits going to those who hired unemployed disabled veterans and veterans out of work for six months or longer. But that law expired at the end of 2013.
Cahill and Krulder would like to see it reinstated.
"It's a no brainer," says Krulder. "Every good man and woman that serves this nation brings a skill home. If a corporation needs a return on investment to hire a veteran or service-disabled veteran ... so be it. It should be there."
Happy Memorial Day!
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