Friday, July 18, 2014

Stigmatized Veterans

      I recently had the privilege of sitting in on a meeting with some of the heads of Atlanta's corporate entities to listen to them discuss hiring veterans and bringing awareness to the subject. As a veteran who has seen his fair share of deployments I think I can honestly say that I am somewhat of an SME on what a veteran brings to the table for a major company. The basic attributes of loyalty, honesty, and integrity are in themselves commendable, but that is not all the modern day veteran brings to the table for corporate america. The ability to make an intelligent decision based on limited information in a high stress situation is something that a combat veteran learns through experience. This is not something that can be taught, but instead is ingrained into the DNA of anyone who knows the stress of thinking on the fly.

      As I sat there listening to these ideas of how to properly use words to describe veterans in order to get hiring managers to recognize their value, I nearly had a moment of absolute anger. Instead of discussing how to categorize the modern day veteran, or any other veteran for that matter, why not focus on the reason why veterans are cast in a different light than any other candidate? After all we are no different than the guy or gal who went to college and started working right away, other than the fact that we get our college for free and we posses a plethora of leadership and team oriented abilities that the average Joe could only hope to learn in their life time.

       Terms like PTSD and Combat veteran instantly make people think that the veteran who the terms are associated with is broken and no longer suitable for duty. This could not be any further from the truth. Yes there are those who's emotional difficulties have debilitating effects on their life, but are there not also civilians who suffer from debilitating issues in their lives as well? Just because a man or woman has served in combat does not make them a baby killing psychopath who is not suitable for corporate america. This is the stigmata that has been associated with veterans and my suspicion was affirmed during this meeting. At the end of the day veterans are in fact different from the average student or candidate for a job. We of our own accord volunteered to defend the constitution of the United States of America and by doing so set ourselves apart from the rest of the population. This does not give us any more of a right to be hired or to be recognized as heroes, but what it has done is provided us with knowledge and experience that cannot be acquired anywhere else on the planet. RLTW! 

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