Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Veterans issues

Among the many issues facing veterans today is unemployment. Gary Davis (Seattle's KPLU) spoke with Senator Patty Murray at the end of last month. Murray, who sits on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, recently did a roundtable with veterans. She told Davis, "They have ten years of job experience and they come home and apply for a job and are told 'You don't have experience.' Well what was the last ten years?" Lorraine Mirabella (Baltimore Sun) reports:

Young, unemployed veterans who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan face even lower odds of finding jobs in this economy than their civilian counterparts, according to recent government statistics. The jobless rate hit 21 percent last year for the youngest veterans, who are 18 to 24 years old, according to a U.S. Department of Labor report released last month. That's compared to 16.6 percent of nonveterans in the same age range.

Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) explains that the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan War "has tripled since the recession began". Iraq War veteran Phil Aliff (US Socialist Worker) writes:

This week, as Obama was visiting Afghanistan to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, derisively known by most Afghans as the "mayor of Kabul," shocking statistics were released regarding unemployment for veterans. According to the Labor Department, the jobless rate for veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 rose to 21.4 percent, up from 14 percent in 2008 and significantly higher than the 16.6 percent unemployment rate for civilians in the same age range.
Employers are legally obligated to provide job security for members of the National Guard and Reserves, holding their jobs until they return from overseas. But with these soldiers increasingly facing repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, employers are simply deciding not to hire them at all--turning them down even if they have the appropriate skills out of fear that they won't unable to replace a deployed employee.
Veterans' groups say the high unemployment figures are also due to the fact that the young people who join the military lack job training, job experience and education.
Of course, these are precisely the reasons that recruiters tell young people that joining the military will benefit them--that it will give them a leg up when it comes to finding a job when they return to civilian life.
The military has never provided the kind of job training that employers are really looking for. That's all the more so today as more and more people flock to recruiting stations in the hopes of a source of income that will meet basic living standards, or perhaps help them pay for an increasingly expensive education now that state budget cuts have slashed education funding and raised tuition.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the age spectrum, James Drew (Dallas Morning News) reported on abuse taking place in veterans homes for the elderly including an accusation that 97-year-old WWII veteran John Harris was jerked from his wheelchair and thrown onto his bed by "care workers" leading to a hip injury while 84-year-old WWII veteran Albert Teague was reportedly choked by another "care worker" at the same home. In a separate report, Drew reports on WWII veteran Wilson Sikes who died of natural causes but was complaining of abuse before he passed away.

Turning to Iraq, Danny Fitzimons is an Iraq War veteran and suffers from PTSD. In August 2009, he went back to Iraq as an employee of AmrourGroup Inc and is charged in the August 9th shooting deaths of Darren Hoare (Australian contractor), and Paul McGuigan (British contractor) and in the wounding of Iraqi Arkhan Madhi. The British citizen's trial was supposed to begin today; however, BBC News reports that the trial is now on hold "for two months for psychiatric assessments."

Over at the University of California, Merced, Iraq War veteran Lt Dan Choi is set to appear Friday to speak:

Special Events - Community Service | April 9 | 4-7 p.m. | Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center

Location: 5200 North Lake Rd, Merced, CA 95343

Sponsor: Student Life

Lt. Dan Choi is an infantry officer in the United States Army who has served in Iraq. He has become an LGBT rights activist following his coming out on the The Rachel Maddow Show in March 2009 and is in the process of being dishonorably discharged because of his orientation.

He is now publicly decrying America's Don't Ask, Don't (DADT) Tell policy, which forbids lesbian, bisexual and gay service members from serving openly. He's been a part of many state and national panels addressing issues affecting the LGBT community and has quickly become a nationally recognized speaker.

He will be on campus to address his time under the DADT policy and the inequities that LGBT citizens currently face in our country.

Pre-Reception at 4 p.m. Sign ups start on Monday in the Office of Student Life. Space is limited!/event.php?eid=109296795757332&ref=mf

A Post-reception will follow

Event Contact: 209.228.2582

Lt Dan Choi is fighting for equality and has made it clear that he will not be silent in the face of discrimination. It should be a very inspiring and worthwhile event for all who attend. In other veterans news, Iraq Veterans Against the War notes:

Warrior Writers Project is applying for a $25,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh program and we need your vote!

Starting April 1, Pepsi will post all the proposals it has received so the public can vote.

The top ten proposals in the $25,000 range win. Grants will be used to fund three 2010 Warrior Writers retreats for veterans throughout the country, so vote early and vote every day!

If you are really motivated to help, plan an event or house party so you can get people to vote. All you need is a laptop and friends willing to offer their votes.

At every event you attend/organize in April, please make this announcement and set up a laptop to ask folks to vote for us. We can do this!!

(IVAW is the fiscal sponsor of the Warrior Writers Project. Application for this grant does not constitute endorsement of the Pepsi Cola Corporation or any of its products.)

The following community sites have updated:

"Yes, folks, it's true," writes NOW on PBS executive producer John Siceloff, "NOW on PBS has come to the end of its broadcast run. The last episode will air on April 30, 2010. PBS announced last fall it was canceling NOW and providing funding for a new public affairs show called Need to Know." Click here for the rest of his essay. The program begins airing each week on Fridays on most PBS stations (check local listings) and this week they look at the economy:

The national economic disaster hit the city of Braddock Pennsylvania
like a wrecking ball. But Braddock Mayor John Fetterman -- dubbed
"America's Coolest Mayor" by The New York Times -- is taking very
unconventional approaches to reinventing the town and re-inspiring its
residents. Home to the nation's first A&P supermarket and Andrew
Carnegie's first steel mill, Braddock is being revitalized with new
youth and art programs, renovations of abandoned real estate, and bold
plans to attract artists and green industries.

On Friday, April 9 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW sits down with
Mayor Fetterman to learn how the 6'8" 370-pound political novice is
trying to turn his town around, and if other devastated communities can
and should follow his large footsteps.

The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends