One of the most traditional football rivalries took a backseat for “Military Appreciation Night” on Saturday night as the Navy veterans took on the Army veterans at the Wells Fargo Center.
They descended on the area for a friendly, exhibition game of Arena Football, hosted by the Philadelphia Soul. They were there to bring awareness to the unemployment rates among U.S. soldiers. The veterans also had a chance to participate in a job fair prior to the game.
“With the way the economy is right now, it’s tough for anyone to find a job, not just service members. I’m pretty sure they (citizens) do have an understanding how tough it is,” said Navy Lt. Shun White.
The statistics are staggering. Among veterans between the ages of 18-24 that served in Afghanistan and Iraq, the unemployment rate was 20.4-percent in 2012, coupled with a 9.9-percent unemployment rate for all veterans who served since September 2001.
“No, I don’t think so, not at all,” said Navy Commander Isaac Powerll, when asked if the general public was aware. “They might have an idea if they had a family member that they went through it with, but it’s tough.”
While some veterans voiced publicly how tough it is to find employment once they return stateside, certain individuals believe the government is trying to help.
“We need more people involved,” said Army Staff Sgt. Theron Davis. “More civilians involved, more government officials involved and more Congress involved, but eventually it will be done. I was unemployed for about 15 months.”
Veterans from both sides reverberated that they want the game to come back next year for a good reason.
“It definitely will. It’s a great cause. They got me all the way here from Virginia Beach, and it’s definitely going to be back,” Davis said.
“It should. I think it will. I think it was a great turnout,” Powell said.