I remember my father telling me about that slogan when he was getting out of the Navy back in the 1972. It seems nostalgic to think about times when our country honored veterans upon their return, rather than simply "supporting the troops" (which these days, seems to consist of slapping a yellow ribbon magnet on their SUV and watching Bill O'Reilly). Was it so long ago? Must be, because 18% of veterans discharged since 1990 have found themselves unemployed within one to three years of leaving the service.
Maybe they're right. I can feel the rage boiling up inside of me at the utter ingratitude toward people who've sacrificed so much for their country. It's one thing to not give preference to veterans, but to actively discriminate against them because of some ignorant stereotype is inexcusable.
The report blamed the poor prospects partly on inadequate job networks and lack of mentors after extended periods in war. The study said employers often had misplaced stereotypes about veterans' fitness for employment, such as concerns they did not have adequate technological skills, or were too rigid, lacked education or were at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder.
It urged the federal government to consider working with a private-sector marketing firm to help promote and brand war veterans as capable employees, as well as re-examine education and training such as the GI Bill.
"The issue of mental health has turned into a double-edged sword for returning veterans. More publicity has generated more public awareness and federal funding for those who return home different from when they left. However, more publicity — especially stories that perpetuate the 'Wacko Vet' myth — has also made some employers more cautious to hire a veteran," said Joe Davis, spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Reservists are having problems when they come home, too:
Separately, a Labor Department report obtained by the AP showed that formal job complaints by reservists remained high, citing concerns about denied jobs or benefits after they tried to return to their old jobs after extended tours in Iraq. Reservists filed 1,357 complaints with the department in 2006, the latest figures available, down from nearly 1,600 in 2005, when complaints reached the highest level since 1991.
When we talk about spitting on veterans, let it be said that American businesses, not anti-war protesters, were the most egregious offenders in the Iraq War.