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War and Sacrifice Coming Home

How you can help.

Last week, the Pew Research Study released “War and Sacrifice in the Post 9/11 Era,” a study that didn't contain many surprises: vets are proud of their service, but have trouble integrating back into civilian life.

Military members are returning to a population that has little idea of what it means to serve in uniform, in the most literal sense possible, and a country mired in what no one wants to call a recession.

If you are in that 99.5 percent of the U.S. population that has not been on active duty since the 9/11 attacks, the time has come for you to step up.

Thanking someone in uniform doesn’t help, although the thought is appreciated. Buying a beer provides instant gratification, but its effects are regrettably short-lived (depending on the amount and quality purchased, of course).

One thing vets actually need? They need you to hire a recently returned vet.

More than 90 percent of non-military respondents to the Pew survey said they “express pride in the troops,” but I wonder how many of those would be willing to pick up a veteran’s resume and understand it.

The fact is, it’s easier to offer to buy a vet a drink than to offer him or her a job. Hiring managers tend to scan resumes for specific skills or certifications, or, more often than not, someone who reflects that hiring manager’s background. With so few vets out there doing the hiring, this makes a military-centric resume difficult to comprehend.

Managers, ask a vet to explain what military experience means and what a veteran can bring to your team. Give that vet an interview, even if the skill set doesn’t exactly match your expectations—that don’t cost you nothin’—and see for yourself the poise and confidence the military comports upon its members.

Of course, we’re not all hiring managers, and perhaps our positions at work are too precarious to contemplate barging into your boss’s office, demanding a bevy of vets filling positions that may or may not exist. In the interim then, contact your representative and support The Veterans Opportunity to Work Act, or VOW Act. The act provides a series of initiatives designed to increase the “hire-ability” of veterans, particularly by helping them make military experience relevant to civilians.

It is easy to discount the idea of affording veterans any kind of special status. After all, times are tough. A lot of people are out of work, for a lot of reasons. I believe, though, that the time has come for America, and Americans, to repay their debts to those who went into harm’s way.

More than 16 million Americans served in the armed forces during World War II. Today, military members, as a percentage of the population, are down to isolationist levels last seen during the Great Depression.

There was no draft to support these wars; heck, there wasn’t even a tax increase to share the proverbial burden, as came with other wars. (It seems unlikely that any kind of nationwide war surtax to decrease our country’s financial woes is in the offing.)

The past decade of war has stayed far removed from our shores, beyond an extra security screen at the airport or brief mention on the news. The burden previously born disproportionally by a few is, literally, coming home. And by simply helping in some way with a job, you can take up a small piece of it.

O.P. Ditch October 13, 2011 at 12:42 PM
The Casimir Catholic War Veterans (CWV) post together with the Maryland Department of Veteran Affairs is sponsoring an Outreach Program on October 22 at the St. Anthony Hall 2700 block O'Donnell St., Canton, Maryland. One on one counseling on VA benefits. All vets and families welcome. Call 410-299-7283 for further info. It runs from 11am to 3pm with light refreshments. Companies that hire vets are known to the VA. See: http://CWVMD.org
TJ Mayotte October 13, 2011 at 10:45 PM
Thanks, O.P.! Also, the VOW Act has passed the House! http://www.navytimes.com/news/2011/10/military-veterans-employment-bill-101211w/

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