We work in a tough industry. Misunderstood by most and resented by many, we toil on in a “mandated industry” – one that few outsiders love, but even fewer could live without.

To many employers, particularly those without large professional support systems, workers' comp is a necessary evil. The law says they have to have it. Many of them lack the understanding of “the great compromise”, and do not appreciate what they gain from the arrangement. And when they need it, they are often clueless to the process. Injured workers do not largely like us either. The relationship starts off badly; like their employer, they are clueless. Add to that they are injured, and often scared. It can go downhill from there. The more severe the injury, the longer the potential disability period, the worse it can potentially get.

We are an industry based in expense, injury, suffering and pain. Not the stuff of musicals, to be sure.

However, this Thanksgiving, I bring good news. You are not a turkey. You are a champion. The workers' compensation industry in this nation handles over 14,000 injuries and illnesses every single day. That is over 14,000 NEWLY REPORTED injuries and illnesses. Every single day. 365 days a year. And largely, the system works for its stakeholders. We can be proud of the service the industry provides.

Cynics reading this will immediately point out inadequate benefits, cumbersome regulations, inefficient approval processes and sub-standard treatments, as well as a myriad of other complaints that make it sound like we can't get anything right. There are problems, to be sure, but the harsh reality is that most of those injuries receive benefits, are treated, and return to a productive role in society. There are bad apples on both sides, but overall the system does what it was designed to do. Benefits and care are provided while eliminating needless, expensive and uncertain litigation. We meet our obligations, and I think we do it well. I know the system is not perfect, but it sure beats the alternative.

This Thanksgiving, there will be injured workers who will sit down with their friends and family and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal, and they will be able to do so not because they were injured, but because they were cared for. Their injuries were treated. Their benefits were timely. That would not be the case if our system was never created. That would not be the case if you did not do your job. Workers' compensation professionals across the country work to meet rigorous standards and demanding workloads. But the bottom line is, most of us are helping put lives back together. That is what we ultimately do.

So this Thanksgiving, give thanks for your friends, your family and the good fortune in your life. But also be thankful that you have the opportunity to help people and change lives. Although they may never understand or appreciate it, those you've helped are able to enjoy a holiday they might have otherwise not. Be proud of that, and have a very safe and fulfilling Thanksgiving.

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