Friday, March 31, 2006

The unemployment rate among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is very high. Want to know why? Well, you could seek out the truth, or you could let Ollie North lie to you:

Part of the answer is found in the fact that so few corporate executives and personnel managers are veterans themselves. Couple that with a drumbeat of adverse publicity about the war, a mainstream media fixation on military "atrocities" and the constant harping about post-traumatic stress disorder -- PTSD -- and one has to wonder how any war veteran gets hired. On a recent flight to Texas, my seatmate, a corporate CEO, asked if "all the troops coming back from 'over there' were 'screwed up.'" He cited a study alleging that, "more than a third of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan needed psychological treatment."

Now, want the truth?

VA statistics show that in the first quarter of 2005, the monthly average of unemployed veterans ages 20 to 24 was 43,000, up significantly from the 2004 monthly average of 33,000. Officials said that’s partly because most service members seriously injured in Iraq and Afghanistan are in the early stages of their military careers and possess limited transferable job skills or very little civilian work experience. They said unless something is done to better prepare these separating service members for careers outside the military, the rate of unemployment for them will continue to rise.

I'd add that a lot of these kids joined the service in large part because there wasn't much economic opportunity for them otherwise, and now they're back where they started. But Ollie North would rather blame the evil civilian world, where we all hate veterans and spit on them every chance we get while trying not to get any spit on our Birkenstocks.

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