I worry over the hundreds of thousands of veterans returning home, and those who are already there. The headlines tell of an improving employment picture, but the statistics – the real statistics – tell another story.
A year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the unemployment rate for 18-24 year old veterans at a whopping 31.3%. A year later, in January of 2014, that unemployment rate has declined to 11.9%. Sounds like a success story. What you do not hear is that 36% of veterans in that age group have dropped out of the workforce completely, and are not counted in unemployment rates.
Think about that for a minute. These are healthy, young men and women who have already worked, know what it means to show up each day for a job, and understand self-discipline and service. Combined with the ranks of the officially unemployed, a full 43% of 18-24 year old veterans are not working at all. In real numbers, that translates into 93,000 young, capable men and women who are staying home. With all due respect to the headlines, that is not good news.
And that’s not all.
3/4 of all disabled veterans (defined by the Department of Labor as having a disability rating of greater than 60%) have dropped out of the workforce.
17 veterans committed suicide each day in 2011. Today, that number has increased to 22 per day.
If they decide to go to school, they have somewhere between a 50 to 88 percent chance of dropping out in their first year (depending on which study you believe).
According to the VA, about a hundred thousand veterans are homeless on any given night.
I have followed BLS statistics for the last couple of years, and they vary dramatically month-to-month. It is dangerous to draw conclusions from one or two reports. But the last couple of years’ worth of statistics reveal a tragic story that will become more acute if we do not take on the challenge head on.
I work with a nonprofit that deals with severely wounded veterans, and its approach is to wrap an army of volunteers (mentors, counselors, advisors) around each returning veteran. As a recent USA today article says, that approach is bucking the nationwide trends.
Each community has an obligation to welcome its veterans back home, not by sticking yellow ribbons on bumpers, but by shepherding them back into the workforce. How the communities do that is up to them.
But they have to do it. Our returning veterans deserve it.
I love history. Unfortunately, I do not have a good memory. Those born with the ability to remember things like dates and names and such are called history buffs, or history experts. I am more of a history fan.
The nice thing, though, about having a poor memory is that I can watch a good military history movie and enjoy it over and over again as if it were the first time.
It’s that way with Band of Brothers. I like the series so much it has made its way into Greenside a couple of times.
Once at Christmas in 2008…
and once just last week.
It would be an interesting exercise to figure out which of the characters in Band of Brothers each of us would be. Who would the director select as the best fit for each role?
Like everyone, I would want to be Major Dick Winters, the cool, efficient officer who earned the unanimous respect of his men; or 2LT Carwood Lipton, the quiet, hard-working and beloved non-com who bore the weight of leadership without complaint.
But there is a good chance I would be cast as one of the incompetent officers who flitted in and out of Easy Company’s ranks.
(Director): “I need a guy who melts down at the first sign of trouble. You! The guy sipping on a latte. You are my 1LT Dike.”
I don’t want to be 1LT Dike.
Lieutenant Dike was rarely around when his troops needed him, was aloof and detached when he WAS around, and when he was finally corralled to lead his men in combat, he failed.
That is who I would be. That is the guy the director would cast me to play. I would be so good at the role that the audience would despise me, just like they despise 1LT Dike. It would be such a good match that I would never be able to shake the typecast. I would be the Leonard Nimoy of war movies, except unlike 1LT Dike, at least Spock was competent. To this day, when Mr. Nimoy walks into a room, everyone still wants to get a picture taken with him.
I would be the guy everyone avoids, either because (a) they loathe me, or (b) they are afraid of getting typecast by proximity. Any hope of becoming a Big Star would fade away, because no one would ever believe 1LT Dike could be a hero, or President, or whatever. I would be doomed to an ever dwindling number of bit parts until the offers stopped coming in. My agent would drop me. My friends would disappear. Eventually, in order to pay the bills I would have to take a job as a counter clerk at a third rate fast food joint, hating my life and cursing the day I ever agreed to be in a war movie.
I hate history.
A. I am afraid of heights
B. If I get a workout in the gym, I consider that a major accomplishment
These are from the website videolous, and what you are about to see is amazing. One was not enough for me, so I included two of them (click on the images). Each takes about ten minutes and both will get your heart pumping.
Don’t do any of this stuff at home – or anywhere else, for that matter!
I am back in physical therapy, and am finally starting to figure things out. It took two knee operations to do it, but I am finally starting to understand the art.
It was not supposed to happen this way, you see. The system is designed to keep you guessing. But they really messed up this time, and assigned the same doctor and therapist for my second knee that worked on my first knee. So I was able to compare the treatments.
I’m no doctor, but I think they make stuff up.
Today, they gave me some new exercises to do that were different from the last time I was in there. The low point of the day was when they had me wrap elastic bands around my ankles and walk sideways like a crab. I felt goofy and awkward, and I swear it looked like some of the therapists were trying not to laugh. As I lunged sideways and tried not to fall down, I could almost picture them sitting in the therapist lounge thinking up new exercises for their patients.
Therapist 1: “Let’s make him hang upside down by his ankles and bark like a dog!”
Therapist 2: “OK, but first, let’s make him walk like a crab. That one always cracks me up.”
Pranks aren’t new to the therapy world, by the way.
(That’s a joy buzzer in his hand.)
I guess when you are dealing with broken bones, torn cartilage and misaligned joints you need to lighten up a little. So I’ll give them a little leeway.
But if he makes me hang upside down and bark like a dog the next time I visit, I’m putting my foot down.