The author is a former U.S. Army infantryman who served two tours in Iraq, and is a member of March Forward!
“Skills that will serve you for the rest of your life.” This message will greet you if you visit the goarmy.com website.
This is what the Army is projecting to potential recruits: that by joining up you will have a sound foundation from which to launch a career when you leave. Recent findings say the complete opposite is true.
“While their nonmilitary contemporaries were launching careers during the nearly 10 years the nation has been at war, troops were repeatedly deployed to desolate war zones. And on their return to civilian life, these veterans are forced to find their way in a bleak economy where the skills they learned at war have little value,” says Michael A. Fletcher of The Washington Post. Today, veterans actually experience higher unemployment rates than civilians.
Some veterans even want to return to combat simply to have enough money to pay for food and bills, because job opportunities are so rare for returning vets who have spent their days, months and years in war zones.
"I'm hoping to get deployed," one Marine said. "I could use the money." This is common among vets. The men and women of the military are not fighting for false ideas of “freedom” or “democracy;” they are fighting simply to eat.
The United States spends more on its military than all other countries in the world combined. This money that could and should be used for jobs, health care, education, housing and hundreds of other social services is being funneled into the hands of wealthy defense contractors instead of where it belongs—with us.
An anonymous Ft. Lewis soldier who was in the military for 14 years and was medically discharged after serving multiple combat deployments told March Forward!, “I can’t find a job anywhere.” On top of not being able to find a job, he is in constant conflict with the Veterans Administration to try and receive the benefits to which he is entitled.
One issue that veterans face when searching for jobs is the perception of employers that all vets have mental health problems, including substance abuse, and are prone to violence. This makes it harder for veterans to get hired, contrary to promises from recruiters that military service makes one more valuable in the job market.
The truth is that one in five vets claims a service-related disability such as PTSD as a result of their experiences, including the brutality they have witnessed against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
While the Army website emphasizes the many different “jobs” you can perform in the military, this writer learned how to kick in doors—a skill that does not translate well to civilian careers.
The military and its lapdog recruiters project empty promises about how “Your education is our mission.” In reality, the mission of the U.S. military is to serve the interests of Wall Street. But they can't fight their wars themselves. They need poor and working class people to fight those wars for them. To carry out that mission, they need us, the rank and file, and that is why they try to recruit us with inflated promises of jobs and education.