The New York Giants won the Super Bowl and now they will get their parade down New York City's Canyon of Heroes. And yet, according to Paul Rieckhoff, there's another parade that's long overdue, and Rieckhoff is making noise about it.
The Defense Department has maintained that now is not the time for a New York City parade for Iraq War veterans since soldiers are still deployed in Afghanistan. Rieckhoff, the executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, says there is no time like the present. He told Big Think that Iraq War veterans are not enough in the public eye, as they represent just 1 percent of the population. "We're almost like a reality TV show," he said. "It's something that seems distant. It seems like somebody else's kids."
While a parade may seem like a symbolic gesture, Rieckhoff sees such an event as part of a broader effort to educate the public about who veterans are. Civilian employers too often view this group as "ticking time-bombs," he says. "We have to break the crazy, volatile, Rambo veteran stereotype that was really perpetuated after Vietnam," says Rieckhoff.
Furthermore, "we need to do a better job of communicating military skills into the civilian workplace," Rieckhoff says, and "we need to help military veterans coming home communicate their experience and communicate their skills."
Rieckhoff says veterans are well suited to transition into the modern civilian workplace and would "make a really good asset to any kind of company." But they do need help transitioning home.
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