I have always taken umbrage at the term giving back to the community. It was my position that I never took anything from the community in the first place, so what was I obliged to give back? I never invaded public tax dollars for any of my education. I worked every summer from the time I was 15 until the second year of medical school, most times holding down two jobs, so I could pay for my books, room and board, expenses and pocket money. My father and mother made sure that their children had a healthy respect for the dollar, the toil involved in earning a dollar and understanding being taxed on the very dollar that we worked hard to earn by those who did not earn it themselves. So what did I need to give back? This was my attitude until I read an essay by Mark Reickhoff in The Atlantic Monthly, entitled Honor the Troops By Hiring Them and dug into this issue.
In 2010, post-9/11 veterans had an unemployment rate that was 31 percent higher than the overall veteran unemployment rate. In April of 2011, younger male veterans ages 18-24 experienced especially high rates of unemployment – 26.9 percent.
In juxtaposition to these statistics, the post-9/11 vet is better educated than the general employment pool. As an example, 60 percent of post-9/11 vets can computer code in at least one language compared to just three percent of the total population according to the VA. Almost 60 percent have college degrees or specific technical certifications. These people are motivated, mission and goal oriented, understand orders, live in a world of no excuses, and are tech savvy and loyal. They are bright, committed and have a high degree of integrity. I would always prefer to have a military-trained surgical tech assist me in the operating room than his or her civilian counterpart exactly for the reasons just stated.
A central issue cited for not employing a post-9/11 vet is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. I find this reasoning specious at best. First, PTSD is treatable. Secondly, how many people in a business office suffer from depression or alcoholism or substance abuse? How many have social interaction issues? Why is PTSD treated differently than these medical conditions?
Last, I wish you to consider the story of Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter and Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale. If you don’t wish to go to the link you can listen to the last 10 minutes of this past Sunday’s podcast of the program Honor a Vet By Giving Them a Job. These two men stood their post in Camp Ramadi, Iraq and sacrificed their lives so that many others could live; commitment, integrity, character, mission oriented and no excuses oriented- any questions? I thought not.
These are the people that watch over us, that at times sacrifice themselves for their brothers and sisters and for us, that guard and protect our freedoms and our way of life. Do we owe them? Do I owe them? Am I obliged to give back to them? Hell yes I am!