Veterans’ Letters: Employment Hurdles; What Congress Can Do


November 17, 2015

As a veteran, I greatly appreciated the outpouring of support from the community on Veterans Day. However, there are still many issues affecting veterans that must be addressed.

Veterans still face rampant unemployment and underemployment. Though the overall unemployment for recent veterans has image of soldierdecreased to 7.2 percent in 2014, it still outpaces the general population. Veterans face unique hurdles to employment that will require active participation by human-resource professionals to overcome.

Misconceptions abound — the worst is the notion of veterans as rigid and unimaginative workers or authoritarian managers. There could be nothing further from the truth. The very nature of the military is instability and each service member is trained to be adaptable and flexible. Far from being iron-fisted martinets, former officers and noncommissioned officers are leaders who mentor and guide.

Though it may take more effort to fully understand what vets have to offer, employers can greatly benefit by availing themselves of this highly trained and adaptable pool.

Jake Creecy, Seattle
National guilt

I was a submarine crew member from 1965 to ’93. During the Vietnam years, we were spit on and called baby killers. I once wore my uniform to my favorite tavern and they wouldn’t serve me.

Today, we are all called heroes; We are not all heroes. I certainly wasn’t. I did my job and I did it well and I received many commendations and letters of appreciation, but I was never a hero. To call me one takes away from those who are true heroes and performed heroic deeds. I truly believe that this country is suffering from national guilt for the way that Vietnam vets were treated.

Bruce Loughridge, Bremerton
How Korea and Vietnam differ

I often hear about the “Forgotten War” in Korea, from 1950 to ’53, and the veterans of that war rightly complaining that their sacrifices are not properly appreciated by their fellow Americans. They would be correct.

I believe one of the main reasons for this is that the Korean War started so soon after the end of World War II and that the American people just wanted to get on with their lives without war or the “Great Depression.” Understandable.

That does nothing toward showing proper respect and honor to those Americans (many veterans of WW II) who were sent to fight the communists. I can tell you of a great number of people who not only appreciate the sacrifices of the American military but revere the American fighting man and the other allies and what they did to save their country and the people of South Korea.

Admittedly, much of this appreciation comes from the older South Koreans. To me, a Vietnam veteran, the Korean War veterans need only look at the great success of South Korea as a prosperous and vibrant nation. What a great success story, and it would not have happened without the Herculean efforts of the American military. One only has to look at the horror that is North Korea to see what might have happened to South Korea had the North won the war.

As a Vietnam veteran only speaking for myself, I cannot look at Vietnam like that. What success story did our sacrifices create in Vietnam? None. Zero. All this very, very late “welcome home” rings rather hollow to me. It’s too late for that.

On this Veterans Day, which is just another day for many Americans to go shopping for those precious Veterans Day bargains, I will go visit my father’s grave and those of other veterans of the past and think of them and all they did for us and our country.

Richard B. Ellenberger, Normandy Park
An act to employ veterans

Military veterans receive some of the best medical training and experience available when serving our country. Their sacrifices, commitment to duty and ability to get the job done in austere environments make them exceptionally well-suited for working as EMTs and paramedics in our communities upon their honorable separation from the U.S. armed services. Experienced military medics are often required to duplicate their medical training at the most basic level to receive certification to be hired for a civilian EMS job.

The Veteran Emergency Medical Technicians Support Act of 2015 (S. 453/H.R. 1818) would help veterans return to work upon their completion of military duty and reduce unemployment among veterans. In 2012, 10,000 military medics separated and entered the civilian workforce. This important legislation makes it easier and faster for veterans who served as military medics to earn certification as civilian emergency medical technicians, and serves to fill an essential public function in communities across our nation.

Helaman Burdge, Kenmore

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