By Julie O’Rourke, WTC Stratcom
Agency officials are “called to be a vision for wounded warriors’ dreams,” said The Honorable Ray Jefferson, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans Employment and Training Services (VETS) at the Wounded Warriors Federal Employment Conference Wednesday. Jefferson charged agency officials to do work they will be proud of, quoting a poem by Linda Ellis, “The Dash.”
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke of the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.
Fifteen years ago, Jefferson saw the course of his life change in a moment: a defective hand grenade made the tell-tale poof sound that it was about to explode. He had Soldiers on each side and chose to hold the grenade to protect his colleagues. He lost all five fingers on his left hand. When his parents picked him up from the hospital, his first meal out was Chinese food. The message in his fortune cookie read: “What began as a curse can become a blessing.”
Jefferson charges each agency official to be that power in a wounded warrior’s life, showing some who may have lost hope how what has been a curse might be a blessing in the future. “The death of a dream can be the birth of a destiny.” Jefferson asked the audience to nurture those dreams in others and bring them to light, “your lives are the candles that will light the way for a wounded warrior’s dreams to come true.”