I’m old enough to remember when universities and employers had veterans preferences, with the idea that those serving their country should have preference for jobs that they are qualified for.
This was mostly a way to say thanks, but was also partly the acknowledgement that a man (or woman) who had been willing to serve their country might have other qualifications (e.g. maturity) that might not show up on a simple application.
But now, too many of the talking class are busy dissing the veterans. Why? Because they disdain the military, because they train their children to disdain military careers, and therefore few of them actually know anyone in the military.
Peter Gudmundsson wrote in the Christian Science Monitor:
A quick glance at the troops I met immediately revealed a broad representation of America’s ethnic groups â€“ a diversity that’s typical throughout America’s armed forces. Statistics reveal high standards of educational attainment and the near nonexistence of illegal drug use or criminal backgrounds. Many come from families in which military service is a common experience. Yet I can’t help concluding that the upper and upper-middle or “elite” social classes seem to be conspicuously absent…
America was (once) full of veterans who could place “news from the front” in context for friends and neighbors….
A society with veterans represented at all levels of the community is better equipped to interpret accounts of inadvertent civilian casualties, interrogation interpreted as torture, or prisoner abuse. With the abdication of the upper classes from military service, most elites in the media, private sector, and government service don’t have the intimate human context for the realities of war.
One result of this is prejudice: making false generalizations about the military and military veterans that would be taboo if similar statements were made of, say, illegal immigrants, or Episcopalians.
Today’s CNN had a woman discussing the election and essentially said the military was full of people who had no other opportunities.
Never mind that the standards to be accepted into the military are high, or that other jobs are available, and never mind that many in the military get advanced training for one’s job (and often have the ability to attend classes or to get degrees while working).
Let’s continue to paint the military, especially the minority members, as helpless and ignorant pawns of the evil bushy, not as men and women who could get jobs in industry but prefer the discipline and the training offered by the armed services.
Another example is the NYTimes long article about returning veterans involved in homicides.
Ralph Peters of the NYPost rightly points out that 20% of these homicides were essentially car wrecks after drinking (DUI), not murders, and the
Bill Owens at Pajamasmedia has the background on some of the other crimes, including child abuse that occured before deployment, a police officer accused of shooting during a no knock raid, a man who shot the rapist of his child, and a couple drug dealers/gang members who went back to their previous violent profession after their enlistment.
Why is it that one doubts that such a story would have been published the way that it was (without statistics for example, that would have shown that veterans had a lower homicide rate than civilians) if there had been veterans in the newsroom to vent the story?
As Gudmundsson points out: One of the problems is that when those doing the reporting lack military experience, they will filter the news through the eyes of partisanship and ignorance rather than through the eyes of experience.
Peters is even more blunt, seeing it as a political move to paint the war in Iraq as wrong by demonizing the veterans:
Again, the Times’ smear certainly wasn’t an accident. The paper’s staff is highly paid and highly experienced. Its editors know that a serious news story has to put numbers into context. But their sole attempt at context was to note that offenses by former soldiers have ticked up since we went to war….what’s the image that the left, whether the Times or the silly people in Hollywood, presents to us? Vets are nuts. Violently nuts. They kill their neighbors. They kill their own kind. And they’re just waiting for the right moment of madness to kill you.
After all, when the newspaper of record decides that not only is the war evil but that all those who serve in the war are evil, it sends a message to all sorts of nutcases and paranoid types that aggression is justified.
Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. Her husband is a veteran of World War II.