You know all those Ads on TV telling you how you'll learn great life lessons and a shit ton of job experience that will help you in life by joining the armed forces? Well.. yeah. That was all bullshit. I do hope you realized that.
The sad reality is that our troops are coming back and finding not that they are called baby killers. But that all the promises told to them about their usefulness post-service is nothing but hot air.
So getting shot in the head by a sniper and having a trinket to show for it doesn't carry much weight in the civilian market? Not to mention that it may very well hurt the chances of a job candidate? Color me surprised but I'm pretty sure that's not what was advertised in the commercials looking for people to enlist.
After Brooks Douan finished serving in Iraq for the Marine Reserves, he returned home in October 2008 to battle something many civilians had already been fighting: unemployment.
To survive, the 24-year-old took temporary jobs in his home state of South Carolina. He donned a pumpkin costume during Halloween for extra cash. He took a temporary gig as a photographer, but he was let go shortly. The economy was to blame, the studio owners told him.
When Douan eagerly signed up for the military in high school, recruiters told him veterans were coveted hires in the civilian workplace, targeted by employers for their hard work ethic and discipline. Now, in the toughest economic times since the Great Depression, Douan is finding veterans are not immune to the woes of the economy.
"I thought it would be easier for me to find work because people would be like, 'Oh you're a veteran, you served your country,' " he said. "But now, I don't think it makes one bit of a difference."
For months, the unemployment levels for veterans has been prompting concern among government officials and the nonprofit world trying to help veterans readjust to civilian life. Some politicians have been pushing for legislation that would help returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan find jobs. Others have been addressing startling rates of homelessness among veterans -- a number that could surge, some advocacy groups say, if the unemployment issue is ignored.
Unemployment for veterans from 18 to 24 hit 21.6 percent in 2009, slightly higher than the unemployment rate of 19.1 percent for their civilian counterparts, according the most recent March report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of all the veterans from past wars, soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced higher rates of joblessness, the BLS reports on its web site.
Reserve and Guard members left jobless
Daniel Hutchison, 28, loves building homes.
"I always enjoyed working with my hands," he explained.
During the housing boom before the recession came, he worked 60 hours a week. Sometimes, he had to turn down jobs because he was so busy. The money was good, he says.
But when Hutchison returned from Iraq in December 2008 after working as a emergency medical technician in the Army National Guard, he applied for dozens of jobs without any luck. He's not alone. About 10 percent of veterans from 25 to 34 are unemployed, the BLS reported.
Theodore Daywalt, president of VetJobs.com, a national nonprofit that aids veterans in the job search, says unemployment rates among young veterans have increased because members of the National Guard and Army Reserve are serving longer stints abroad. They are also being called overseas more often. Soldiers are finding their jobs no longer exist when they return home, Daywalt said.
VetJobs.com polled 700 members of the Tennessee National Guard brigade in Afghanistan and discovered 320 of them don't have jobs waiting for them when they return.
"We have made our members of National Guard third-class citizens," Daywalt said. "We want them to fight for the country, and yet we make it impossible for them to get good jobs."
Bob Madden, assistant director for the National Economic Commission at the American Legion, said his organization will put on almost 250 career fairs across the country this year to help returning former find jobs.
"It's bad," Madden said. "It definitely needs to be addressed. We need to figure out how to solve these problems."
Some military experts say they believe some companies are reluctant to hire people in the National Guard or Army Reserve because they may leave for duty again. Companies cannot afford those kinds of abrupt changes in an economic downturn, experts say. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act was passed in 1994 to ensure that soldiers would have their jobs when they returned, but some employers have found loopholes around the law, these experts say.
The number of complaints filed under the law have risen from 1,226 complaints in 2007 to 1,389 complaints in 2008, according to the most recent USERRA report released in 2009.
PTSD, wrong skills hinder job hunt
After 15 months in Iraq, Shane Hornbeck, 24, of Portland, Oregon was shot by a sniper. He is decorated with a Purple Heart. But none of that matters in the job search, he says.
Like many soldiers trying to secure a job, he is having trouble translating some of his military skills into the civilian workplace.
He's been unemployed since 2008. He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
"A lot of people think TBI (traumatic brain injury) and as soon as they hear that, they think I'm broken," Hornbeck said.
The gloomy economic climate has been difficult for soldiers, say sociologists who have studied how soldiers transition into the civilian workplace. One disadvantage soldiers have in the job search is the stigma surrounding highly publicized conditions such as PTSD, says Morten G. Ender, a professor of sociology at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Sociology professor Meredith Kleykamp at the University of Maryland, College Park, says veterans traditionally have been preferred over civilians in job hiring. In her study, she created fictitious resumes with comparable skills for veterans and nonveterans and applied to entry-level positions advertised online. More employers responded back to a veteran than a nonveteran, she said.
However, Kleykamp said some veterans' skills, such as working on a tank, might be not be directly applicable to a civilian job. Veterans who had experience with clerical work or engineering had an easier time finding a civilian job.
"Part of the challenge veterans face is that everything isn't equal," she said. "The kinds of experience they may have attained may not be the kind of experiences that translate into the work world."
Kevin Grafeld, a 25-year-old who served in the Marines, felt defeated after unsuccessfully looking for a job for more than two years. Now he is receiving assistance from Wounded Warriors Projects, a nonprofit that is putting him back in school for his associate's degree. Grafeld is hopeful the degree will help him find employment.
He says he's barely getting by after exhausting his savings last August. His career future may be uncertain and his financial prospects are shaky, but Grafeld says he wouldn't take back the time he served in Iraq.
"It's been my life's dream to serve my country," Grafeld said.
I'm not really surprised when infantrymen don't get a job after finishing a tour. If you find it as something of news that military overtly lies to poor and mostly uneducated people to get them to join with promises that make no sense, then perhaps I have a bridge to sell you.
The army said it would give me strength for today, strength for life. Though, I guess they never made any promises as to a job for life. Or a promise that I would actually make it back from the war in one piece. It's not like I've been a massive supporter of the "The troops". I usually make fun of them because they are the folks who fell in for those lies like trying to kill giant lava monsters that the ads had.
Pay heed, when the military tells you all your job skills you learn in the service have real world value and will help you get a civilian job, they're making shit up so you sign the dotted line. Have you ever noticed that in those ads where they show how the same jobs can be parlayed into civilian life they only show examples from technical and medical jobs that your average target audience for this ad will never qualify for.
When you think about it, Military recruiters are hardly different than Scientologists. They tell candidates that they have potential but need special training. After completing an easy test the candidate is told that he scored exceptionally high. If only he would sign up he'll get to fly to Comanche. At least he won't have to be deployed in a Crusader.
Where I would normally be laughing at a news piece like this, I'm sort of bummed right now. It is the poor uneducated people that are suckered into joining the armed forces. So those very same people get no jobs afterward. It's not comedy. It's just a sad grim reality in this economy.
It really does confirm the idea that military enlistment is an exploitative war on the poor. Though, let's face it, with today's modern combat of predator drones, troops are pretty useless in war as well. A military record seems to add up to being nothing more than a criminal record.
Veterans have to face the prospect of unemployment like the rest of us. Though, I do have to wonder, if you aren't abusing the fuck out of the G.I. Bill and unemployment right now, you're a fucking scrub moron of a Vet. You should be using that shit as it's the only way you're ever going to dig yourself out of the hole of spending so much time over seas in an unjust war.
Fun Fact - The Republicans main argument against modernizing/expanding the G.I. Bill was that it would give the servicemen too good of a shot at success in the civilian world. Which would cause them to leave the military... Pretty fucked up, right?
Then again, there's always Blackwater. Literally the only job you can get outside of Blackwater if you were an infantryman would be a janitor because of all the shit you need to clean while you are a lower enlisted member of the army.
Doesn't that sound nice. Join Xe. Get paid big bucks to crusade for the Cristian cause, onward soldier. Remember that the difference between middle class and low class is whether you are two or one paychecks away from losing your home.
One guy I know that I went to school with went into intelligence thinking it would get him a nice job after, but it just gave him depression so now he's unemployed and psychologically damaged, but check out that sweet sweet security clearance, yo.
There's one thing military experience is good for and that's kitchen work. It usually means strong time management skills and a sense of urgency which is important for working in any busy restaurant.
It was a bit depressing watching Generation Kill and then seeing the interviews with the actual soldiers and half of them are PMCs and the other half are cops because those are the only jobs they can get. Considering how much the tax payers paid for their training for these killers to hone their skills, it sure does seem like a big waste.
Why hey, even our troops are supporting the troops or the government that sends them in..
It's sort of like going to prison. When you get out of prison, it's still not your place. You're so far removed from that life that you have trouble adapting. So most of them just end up going back to prison because they're at least someone there. When all you know of life is how to squeeze off a few rounds into that Hajji's head, how could you really go back to the modern world and see things like you did before? They at least know how to survive there. Till they stop even doing that due to some IED.
Did we just gloss over Vietnam? I guess the major difference is that people don't spit on them when they come home like they did during Vietnam.
Nam vets were and are completely unemployable. It's no wonder people were running from the draft. Of course people aren't going to hire veterans. After shit like that they are crazy for the rest of their lives. Who is a more attractive hire in a white collar entry level position?;
22 year old recent graduate from state school with liberal arts degree, worked in retail or something while in school.You tell me. Which one are you going to hire? It's pretty clear that the first one would be the choice of many. If the discharged dude was any degree of smart, he'd use the G.I. Bill to get some more schooling in as the new one is fairly decent.
22 year old recently discharged specialist, did 4 years of infantry or something, maybe got an "Associates" while on active duty from University of Phoenix or some other military-friendly pseudo school.
Now that I think about it, I can't think of an example of welfare jockeys more successful than Troops who joined up and put in a full 20 years between 1975 and 2003. Tax-free salary, free housing, free health care for yourself and your family. Free food and booze and cigarettes and transit when deployed in Arizona or North Carolina. World travel and getting trashed and puking on defeated German or Japanese people. Retirement and full pensions with health care and housing by 38, and the only downside is 20 years of loyal service without taking some stupid facebook pictures of you taking shots off some dude's ass crack?
I guess the major downside to that is between those years, by the time you were 38 in a civilian profession you could easily be making $65-120,000 a year instead of $27,000. Though, let's not split hairs, $27,000 is a pretty good salary considering that you get free health care, dental and vision, free housing and a $250/mo food stipend, also what particular difference does it make if you make three times as much if you have to retire 20 years later at best.
Call it a guess, but I doubt that most dudes who join the military are the same kind of razor-sharp go-getters how are going to be pulling down six figures by their 30's. No offense, and really, if you're offended by that, please never read what else I say about soldiers.
So there you go. Now you know that you should really support your troops in other methods that are really needed. Like, say, giving them an application to Walmart the next time you're buying bulk socks.