America wasn't prepared for so many returning vets after WWI — so it created DAV.
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Disabled American Veterans

When U.S. Marine Sam Johnson was on patrol in Iraq, he and his team came across a pressure plate IED.

It hit the front of his vehicle.

Fortunately, everyone survived the traumatic experience. Sam sustained some injuries to his knees, but after a number of surgeries, he was able to recover physically. "I feel good," he said. "Now I can walk downstairs without too much pain."


But as he transitioned out of the military, the next big hurdle was finding a new job — one that he would find as fulfilling as his last.

"I knew I wanted to have a great job," he said, so he turned to DAV (Disabled American Veterans), a nonprofit charity with the mission of providing a lifetime of support for disabled veterans who have made sacrifices for their country. They were holding a job fair in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Often what can be most terrifying for vets is what comes after their service.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, May 24, 2017

DAV was founded after World War I, a war in which more than 4.7 million Americans served.

At the time, the country wasn’t prepared to deal with the enormous scale of so many newly returned veterans, and it certainly wasn’t prepared to help the 204,000 vets who had been wounded or injured during this brutal conflict.

A wounded American soldier in Neuilly, France, during or shortly after World War I. Image via Library of Congress.

These men needed jobs, access to medical care, and other forms of support, and there was no single government agency like today’s Department of Veterans Affairs.

So groups of veterans with disabilities started gathering together all across the country to help fill that void, raise money for those who needed it, and create jobs for other veterans. Slowly a new organization began to take shape: the Disabled American Veterans of the World War. In September 1920, the organization held its first national caucus, attended by 250 disabled veterans. From there, the organization kept growing.

The attendees of the second national DAV convention. Image via DAV, used with permission.

Of course, a lot has changed over the last century since the DAV was founded. But the organization has never wavered from its core mission: helping veterans and their families get access to the resources and tools they need as they transition back to civilian life.

Today, DAV has more than 1,300 chapters and 1.3 million members across the United States.

Image via Upworthy/DAV.

Every year, they help 1 million veterans — such as Sam — with everything from health care and benefits to rides to medical appointments and other issues as they arise.

They also represent the interests of veterans on Capitol Hill, engage with the public, and, of course, hold job fairs like the one Sam attended in Charlotte where he landed his current job —  a career he is very proud of.

He said, "It gave me the opportunity to interview with these companies and land a job making this world a better place."

Image via Upworthy/DAV.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

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