Donald Rumsfeld: Support the Troops. Hire Them.

There is therefore no better way to support our troops than to hire them into the civilian workforce. But don't just hire them because it seems like a good, patriotic thing to do. 

What's the Big Idea?


In a recent column in The New York Times, Thomas Friedman asked the question "Why do we all jump up and applaud at N.B.A. or N.F.L. games when they introduce wounded Iraq or Afghan war veterans in the stands?"

According to Friedman, the military embodies the kind of civic idealism and sacrifice that is otherwise missing in "our hyperpartisan public life." That might be a nice sentiment, but all too often all we do is cheer, as if veterans are there only to provide us with a nostalgic sense of what it means to serve one's country. 

We can do more, and need to do more.

Unlike past wars, such as World War II, veterans are not returning home to the same kind of low-cost mortgages, business loans, generous grants to attend college and other perks that helped the World War II generation build the strongest economy and largest middle class the world has ever known

Instead, veterans are returning home to high unemployment -- nearly 27 percent of male veterans 18 to 24 are unemployed -- and high suicide rates. In fact, many recent studies have linked the two, as financial pressures have been found to be responsible for about 12 percent of suicides and attempted suicides. 

There is therefore no better way to support our troops than to hire them into the civilian workforce. But don't just hire them because it seems like a good, patriotic thing to do. 

Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of State and author of the memoir Known and Unknown, says veterans bring something very important to the workforce. According to Rumsfeld, veterans are a self-selected group who have demonstrated initiative and who have also been given a lot of responsibility at a young age. 

In the vide below, Rumsfeld describes why "people in the private sector will do themselves proud by bringing them onboard and bringing into their private institutions and organizations and businesses people with those skill sets."

Watch the video here:

What's the Significance?

While veterans possess valuable assets for the civilian economy, that value isn't well understood. Part of this is because many people in the private sector simply aren't aware of the skill set that veterans possess.

Another issue, that applies to anyone looking to transition from one field to another, is that it is nearly impossible to break through the military jargon on veterans' resumes, so much so that even Rumsfeld, who has worked in both the military and civilian sectors, says "I can't understand what it is they've done."

Therefore, according to Rumsfeld, veterans need to rewrite their resumes in a way to make them "intelligible to the average citizen." 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

Videos
  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
Keep reading Show less
Image source: Topical Press Agency / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Though we know today that his policies eventually ended the Great Depression, FDR's election was seen as disastrous by some.
  • A group of wealthy bankers decided to take things into their own hands; they plotted a coup against FDR, hoping to install a fascist dictator in its stead.
  • Ultimately, the coup was brought to light by General Smedley Butler and squashed before it could get off the ground.
Keep reading Show less

Health care: Information tech must catch up to medical marvels

Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.

Photo: Tom Werner / Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
  • Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
  • As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
Keep reading Show less