Friday, June 22, 2012

Unemployed Army Vet Sells Medal On eBay

It's no secret to anyone paying attention that, in addition to all the other challenges faced by our men and women returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, unemployment has become chief among those.

So it was tough times for Bill Shephard, an Army Veteran from Woodbury, New Jersey, who came home from Iraq in 2009, when he lost his job at Best Buy and was unable to find continued employment to support his family.  This prompted the 43-year-old Shephard to make the incredibly difficult decision to raise money for his family by selling his Army Achievement Medal on eBay.

"Instead of going under a bridge with a sign, 'Will Work for Food,'" Shephard said, "I decided to place the award online for a bid."

Shephard has three children — two boys, ages 4 and 8 and a 12-year-old daughter — and he reached a point of desperation after his unemployment checks ran out in October.

"I served my country from 2008 until 2009 in support of operation Iraqi freedom. When I returned home I immediately went back to work at BestBuy to support my family, BestBuy closed the department that I worked in so, like many Americans,  I found myself on unemployment," wrote Shephard in his eBay post.  "I am still unemployed and have three beautiful young children that are counting on me for support, I have used numerous  VA agencies to help seek employment and also have resumes posted with all the top career resume posting websites."

"I have now decided to sell my award I received during my deployment in  hopes that it will generate a generous financial  response with the intent on using the income to support of my wife and three wonderful children that sacrificed alot while I was away."

But this story, while sad in what precipitated it, has a happy ending.

Shephard's medal "sold" on eBay yesterday for $5,200 in a move that was undoubtedly more charitable than an effort by someone to acquire an Army decoration.  He hopes to use the proceeds from his medal to buy a lawnmower to start a landscaping business.

Others offered donations to Shephard and his family.

The unemployment rate for America's Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans hovers consistently at four to five percent over the national average so there's no quick fixes for Shephard or any other unemployed Vet.  But it's nice to go into the weekend with an inspiring story of people stepping up in a way that goes way beyond slapping a support-the-troops sticker on their car.

Here's more:


UPDATE 06/22/12 6:30 PM EDT: The Gloucester County Times ( is reporting that the first buyer for the medal (at $5,200) has backed out on the offer. Why would someone do that? You can go here to read more.

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