Dear friends: Heard a really disturbing thing shortly ago that's really got my gander up. A friend who's active duty in the army reserves told me that having that experience on his resume has made it harder to find a job in civilian life. He described (what I'll describe as) that kind of discrimination as "epidemic" in his unit. Now, my values and faith demand that I be a pacifist and devoted progressive, and I have consistently been against both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, I strongly support our troops, both active-duty and veterans, and was frankly shocked to hear this. It's gotten me kind of fired up and ready to go to do what I can to support those — past and present — who have made such incredible sacrifices for me.
My father, uncle, and both grandfathers served, so this is a personal issue as well. Our troops — male and female, (thanks to Pres. Obama's leadership) gay and straight, black and white — are people who have committed themselves to make the ultimate sacrifice, if that's what it takes, to defend the rest of us. Think about that. It takes a certain kind of cojones. Beyond that, these ladies and gentlemen have extremely advanced technical skills that are extremely valuable to the private sector, and more importantly, the leadership experience and discipline to excel at any profession, whether as a janitor (not as if there's anything ignoble about being a janitor; there's not) to running a multinational corporation or working in public service. Beyond even that, our troops are so much more than the folks (amazing, and I'm proud to know that I'm represented by such individuals as those who accomplished this, both on the ground and in the preparation and training) who killed Osama bin Laden; they also help build schools, hospitals, bridges, roads, assist in protecting families and businesses around the world. And if we can't help them and return the favor we owe them, then what exactly are our values as a society?
This is not a political issue. Both Democrats and Republicans, progressives and conservatives, need to do what we can to ensure that our current state of affairs comes to an end — a state which the military and their families sacrifice for us — while we lead our lives separately and too often in ignorance of the particulars of their situations and the sorts of sacrifices, physical, mental, emotional, financial — you name it — they make every day on our collective behalf. How can we call ourselves a community if we don't value everyone equally and strive to understand and support each other?
So join me in supporting our troops, and — though admittedly a small gesture, but one that takes little time and, ideally, helps raise awareness of the alarming un- and underemployment rate among our veterans and active-duty troops and the degree to which it's extremely difficult for our troops to reintegrate themselves into the civilian economy: if you're on twitter (and many of you all know by now that I am @destroy_time; and if you're going to follow me, just warning that you'll be reading a lot about Arsenal F.C.), please take a minute or two to send a tweet including "#isupportveterans because __" filling in your answer and using #jobsforvets and retweet to your followers. I would recommend sending it to your local elected officials and media, as well as @whitehouse, @BarackObama, @MichelleObama, @maddow/@maddowblog and @StephenAtHome/@ColbertReport. Whether or not you agree with Rachel Maddow's politics, she, Colbert and the First Lady have been on the front lines of addressing this issue. Colbert, in particular, has been incredible. Thanks.
Hopefully, if we together can get this trending, it'll make some small difference in ensuring that we properly thank our vets, active-duty troops, and their families for their service.
I created a petition at change.org in support of a second bill (after the November 2011 VOW To Hire Heroes Act increasing funding by $1.7B to help veterans find jobs and providing businesses large and small more resources to hire them) to provide more funding for job training, aid to veterans to seek more education, and support to provide more resources for veterans and veterans' families requiring treatment for mental or physical ailments, and to promote active-duty members of the military and veterans' overall health. It's a small step, but a step in the right direction, and signing it will only take a minute of your time.
Thanks, and #JobsForVets
Disclaimer: I posted an earlier version of this that differs slightly (though only in details) at my personal blog Destructive Anachronism and on Facebook.