Thursday, September 6, 2012

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Some of the men and women returning from the service genuinely need help. But most do not - and we're tired of being pitied.

from The Atlantic

by James Joyner

Judging from media accounts, I'm the rare American veteran who isn't homeless, homicidal, or suicidal.

To be sure, the toll of almost 11 years of constant war has been high. Divorce among military families is at record levels at a time when it's declining among the civilian population. As best we can tell, veterans are half again as likely to be homeless as non-veterans. And more soldiers have killed themselves this year than have died on the battlefield.

These trends are damning and shameful. Thankfully, society has taken notice. In the past few years, there's been more investment in counseling services and other programs to help ameliorate the trauma of war and the pain of separation from family.

At the same time, it's fair to note that the comparative statistics are skewed, and that once we control for age, sex, and level of education, veterans are doing better in all these categories than their non-veteran counterparts. It's vital that we make this distinction, lest we falsely blame service for problems better explained by other variables.

This is a well-written article on a theme that is near and dear to my heart. Yes we veterans carry some baggage but I would argue that anybody and everybody who has ever engaged in any kind of worthy endeavor does so as well. The image of the American Veteran as some kind of ticking time bomb ready to go off in a combat-generated flashback, or some kind of pathetic mentally disturbed borderline psycho is a myth generated post-Vietnam by the liberal media and perpetrated by Hollywood in a series of films like Rambo and The Deer Hunter.

The truth is that veterans are more likely to be successful in their post-military life, and we have learned valuable skills - not least of all self-discipline - to drive that success. This is validated by the fact that employers seek out veterans for all levels of work - notably in management.

I do have one point of contention with the author of this piece, however. He states:

". . . we lure a lot of men and women into military service with the promise of paying for their education."

Correction Mr. Joyner - we do not "lure" anybody into military service - we recruit them. And Americans apparently understand the value of military experience because as long as I have worn the war suit - going back to the early eighties here - we have never wanted for lack of willing volunteers in the United States military. I have often said that if the American public fully understood what a truly great deal the military is, we wouldn't need recruiters, we'd need armed guards to keep out the hordes of people who'd be beating at the gates trying to force their way in.


This was sent in by my good friend LUNAR SPOOK - Charter Member of Team STORMBRINGER


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