WBEZ | Veterans http://www.wbez.org/tags/veterans Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: Learning from the past and looking for the future of Black History Month http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-26/morning-shift-learning-past-and-looking-future-black <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/by tartetatin1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We get a glimpse of the man behind African American History Month. And, we celebrate the music of Johnny Cash with music from Chicago actor Kent M. Lewis.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-learning-from-the-past-and-looking-f/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-learning-from-the-past-and-looking-f.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-learning-from-the-past-and-looking-f" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Learning from the past and looking for the future of Black History Month" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 26 Feb 2014 09:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-26/morning-shift-learning-past-and-looking-future-black Morning Shift: The stories and voices of those who served http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-11/morning-shift-stories-and-voices-those-who-served <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/by USAG-Humphreys.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&#39;s Veterans Day and Morning Shift is taking a look at an arts organization that helps vets cope with mental health issues, and examining the issues that recent veterans and older veterans face.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-stories-and-voices-of-those-who/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-stories-and-voices-of-those-who.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-stories-and-voices-of-those-who" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The stories and voices of those who served" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 11 Nov 2013 08:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-11/morning-shift-stories-and-voices-those-who-served 'Valor Games' for disabled veterans to begin http://www.wbez.org/news/valor-games-disabled-veterans-begin-108375 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Vets 130812 AY.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Hundreds of veterans and service members are set to compete in the annual Valor Games Midwest.</p><p dir="ltr">The event for the disabled begins Monday and ends Wednesday. Competitions include cycling, archery, powerlifting and indoor rowing.</p><p dir="ltr">The event is geared toward veterans or active service members who have been wounded or are ill. The first Valor Games started in Chicago two years ago, with events spreading to San Francisco, San Antonio and Durham, North Carolina.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s sponsors include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Chicago Park District. Organizers say about 220 participants have registered for this year&rsquo;s games. Among those participating is Air Force Sergeant Israel Del Toro, or DT.</p><p>A bomb exploded under his truck eight years ago in Afghanistan. Del Toro lost fingers on both hands, had over 130 surgeries, got skin grafts for most of his body and wears a brace on his right leg. But for the next few days, he&rsquo;s cycling, powerlifting, and competing in the discus and shotput contests.</p><p>&ldquo;I thought all throughout my therapy, I could never work out at free weights, and when they encouraged me, &lsquo;Come on DT, try it, try it,&rsquo; I ended up winning gold in it,&rdquo; &nbsp;Del Toro says. &ldquo;That first Valor Games, I always say, that was the first time I actually got under a bench and started working out again.&rdquo;</p><p>Four years ago, Del Toro was the first disabled airman to re-enlist. For veterans who have left the military, he says the games can help them regain part of that experience.</p><p>&ldquo;They can start acting like they&rsquo;re back in the military, tell the same jokes they used to, pick on each other, &lsquo;cause that&rsquo;s just the camaraderie you don&rsquo;t get anywhere else,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Howard Wilson, a retired Marine Corps veteran, agrees. After leaving the Marine Corps, he lost most of his vision through glaucoma, a disease that damages the optic nerve. He has competed at all three Valor Games in Chicago, and says despite the competition, everyone was working together at his first competition.</p><p>&ldquo;You had competitors, but everybody was still on the same side. We egged each other on, we made such each other do our best,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The disability just opened up a new chapter in my life. I knew my vision was getting worse, I got depressed, started thinking about what I couldn&rsquo;t do. You see things slipping away: driving, your independence, you don&rsquo;t have to stop yourself from doing what you were doing initially, you just have to find other ways of doing it.&rdquo;</p><p>He says he is reinventing himself through sport, and hopes to qualify for the US Paralympic wrestling team.</p><p>Sport makes it easier to cope with injuries and depression, says retired Army Sergeant Noah Galloway. He was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq and lost his left arm above the elbow and his left leg above the knee. He has since run two marathons and a series of races, including two <a href="http://toughmudder.com/">&ldquo;Tough Mudder&rdquo;</a> obstacle course races. He gets sponsored to run, but doesn&rsquo;t call himself a professional athlete. He says veterans just need to start participating.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been at the bottom. I&rsquo;ve suffered the depression. I wanted nothing more than to have my arm and leg back, but when I accepted the fact that this is who I am, and I got up, and I got back in shape, and I started taking care of myself, everything turned around,&rdquo; Galloway says. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not looking for Paralympian athletes, we&rsquo;re looking to take care of our veterans.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alan Yu is a WBEZ metro desk intern. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/Alan_Yu039">@Alan_Yu039</a></em></p></p> Mon, 12 Aug 2013 08:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/valor-games-disabled-veterans-begin-108375 Updated benefits guide for service members, veterans http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/updated-benefits-guide-service-members-veterans-107373 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 8.03.01 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>The Illinois Attorney General&#39;s office has updated a guide to federal and state benefits for service members and veterans.</p><p>Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan&#39;s office says the 2013 edition of Benefits for Illinois Veterans is available in time for Memorial Day.</p><p>It features updates for veterans retraining programs and services for homeless veterans. The more than 150-page book also has information for military families and survivors.</p><p>Residents who want a paper copy of the guide can contact the attorney general&#39;s Military and Veterans&#39; Rights Bureau.</p><p>Digital copies are available <a href="http://illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/rights/Benefits%20for%20IL%20Veterans_2013.pdf">online</a>.</p></p> Mon, 27 May 2013 08:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/updated-benefits-guide-service-members-veterans-107373 Afternoon Shift: Immigration as women's issue, Urlacher's retirement and insurance for vets http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-23/afternoon-shift-immigration-womens-issue-urlachers-retirement <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/immigration.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Is immigration a women&#39;s issue? Maria Pesqueira of advocacy group Mujeres Latinas en Acción says it is. Niala looks at why 1.3 veterans are uninsured. Finally, a national look at the Chicago public school closings.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-immigration-reform-retired-athlete.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-immigration-reform-retired-athlete" target="_blank">View the story "Afternoon Shift: Immigration as women's issue, Urlacher's retirement and insurance for vets" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 23 May 2013 12:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-23/afternoon-shift-immigration-womens-issue-urlachers-retirement Filipinos wait (and wait some more) for immigration reform http://www.wbez.org/news/filipinos-wait-and-wait-some-more-immigration-reform-105779 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F81060794&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/web.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 206px; width: 275px;" title="Remedios Cabagnot and her son Adolph have waited nearly twenty years for the rest of their family's reunification visas to come through.(WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" />Remedios Cabagnot keeps a shrine of small, framed photos and trinkets above the television in the Lakeview condo she shares with her adult son. They&rsquo;re photos of family members, and one is a black-and-white image of a young man in his army suit. It&rsquo;s Cabagnot&rsquo;s late husband, Serviliano, who was among hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who fought the Japanese under U.S. command during World War II. &ldquo;We really fought for them,&rdquo; Cabagnot reminisces. &ldquo;I can still remember the war. I was a teenager then.&rdquo;</p><p>Remedios, 86, is now saddled with a bevy of health troubles, including gout and lung problems. She has been fighting a separate battle of her own these last twenty years, one to reunite with her other grown children in the US. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a land of honey,&rdquo; she says, smiling. &ldquo;We loved America and we wanted to see America.&rdquo;</p><p>Remedios arrived in the U.S. in 1993, joining her husband who had come just a few years earlier through the Immigration Act of 1990. That act contained a special provision to allow Filipino World War II veterans to immigrate to the US. Their son Adolph was already in the U.S., but they left behind their other three adult children, assuming it would not take long to obtain visas for them and their families.</p><p>&ldquo;We petitioned them right away, [in] &lsquo;93,&rdquo; Remedios recalls. &ldquo;They gave us requirements: Do this, do that, so we did that. We filed everything, and then they were all approved.&rdquo; Remedios&rsquo; oldest son, Alphonsus, was approved in 1993, before the others. Remedios said her family is tight-knit, and they were encouraged by the speed with which the reunification petitions were approved.</p><p>But the Cabagnots discovered the bottleneck in family reunifications that has hindered many immigrants from establishing complete lives in the U.S.: The federal government caps the number of family reunification visas each year for non-dependent and non-immediate relations.</p><p>When the number of approved petitions exceeds the cap, it creates a queue. The longest queues are for prospective immigrants from China, India, Mexico, and, longest of all, the Philippines.</p><p>Last month the State Department was <a href="http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_5834.html">just getting to some Filipino visa applications from April of 1989</a>. Among those in line are children of Filipino war veterans. Jerry Clarito, Executive Director of the Chicago-based Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment, says this does not honor those veterans. &ldquo;They were in the front line of the battle. Now they are behind, waiting,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So what happened with the veterans who came here? They came here, they continued contributing to America, but they&rsquo;re doing it alone.&rdquo;</p><p>Clarito plans to mobilize Filipinos now that Washington is revisiting the issue of immigration reform, and he has already started reaching out to congressional representatives. He says an obvious solution would be to exempt Filipino veterans&rsquo; children from the cap on family reunification visas, much like young, dependent children are not subjected to a limit.</p><p>Clarito said the local Filipino community did not push hard for such a change in 2007, the last year that Congress considered comprehensive immigration reform measures. But this time around, Clarito hopes lawmakers will seize the opportunity, even if they would only affect a small fraction of immigrant families. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very, very small change, compared to the millions [of undocumented immigrants],&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;But to make this humane, and really comprehensive, we have to listen to those voices that are usually not being heard.&rdquo;</p><p>The story of Remedios Cabagnot and her children, meanwhile, has only gotten more complicated. After 17 years of waiting, Remedios&rsquo; oldest son, Alphonsus, got a visa number in 2010. But before he completed the final requirements to come to the U.S., his father, Serviliano Cabagnot, fell ill. Serviliano was hospitalized, and died at 91, before Alphonsus was able to come.</p><p>Remedios was then dealt a second blow when she received a letter from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. &ldquo;We were all devastated when they told us that our prayers and petitions died with my husband.&rdquo; Because veteran Serviliano Cabagnot had been the sponsor for the visa petitions, the petitions were revoked with his death.</p><p>Remedios&rsquo; attempts to change the sponsorship of her children&rsquo;s petitions to her name have been twice rejected. Last month, she appealed directly to Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, with the hope that his office might intervene. In an email to WBEZ, Durbin wrote &ldquo;It should be much easier to replace one U.S. citizen immediate family member with another on visa petitions &ndash; it&rsquo;s common sense particularly in this case.&rdquo;</p><p>In the meantime, Remedios and her children email each other updates on the status of visas, ever hopeful. &ldquo;I miss my children so much,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;My grandchildren, some are married. I miss them so much.&rdquo;</p><p>Follow Odette Yousef on Twitter @<a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">oyousef</a></p><p><em>Correction: The original version of this story stated Remedios Cabagnot&#39;s age as 89. She is 86.</em></p></p> Tue, 26 Feb 2013 21:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/filipinos-wait-and-wait-some-more-immigration-reform-105779 A Forest Park vet struggles to keep others out of homelessness http://www.wbez.org/news/forest-park-vet-struggles-keep-others-out-homelessness-105502 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79127553&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>When I met Homer Bizzle in his tiny food pantry in west suburban Forest Park, the lights were off.</p><p>Even though the pantry, called America Cares Too, had been open all day, Bizzle said the darkness was typical.</p><p>&ldquo;We just trying to conserve lights, cause, non-profit, you know,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Bizzle started the service project for vets and their families in 2011 after leaving the Army Reserves. He&rsquo;s been running the project on volunteer labor and financing it with small donations and cash out of his own paycheck.</p><p>&ldquo;I just wanted to give back to my fellow veterans and their families,&rdquo; Bizzle said.</p><p>By day, the 33-year-old native of the Austin neighborhood is an advocate for people with disabilities. In the evenings, he heads over to the his spare storefront on W. Harrison St. to meet up with the vets who come here seeking support.</p><p><strong>The battle at home</strong></p><p>In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama announced that 34,000 troops will be home from Afghanistan by this time next year. That&rsquo;s a little over half the remaining troops in what most consider America&rsquo;s longest war.</p><p>But when they get here, many military vets face new, even longer battles - battles with trauma and homelessness. Many come home with mental or physical disabilities, and all come home to a slouching economy. Unemployment among veterans is higher than the national average, and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/discrimination-against-our-countrys-heroes-103510" target="_blank">veteran status itself can be a stigma in a job search</a>. One in three men living on the streets is a veteran (although <a href="http://www.usich.gov/resources/uploads/asset_library/USICH-_Report_to_Congress_on_Homeless_Veterans.pdf" target="_blank">those numbers have declined in recent years</a>). And a recent study estimates that 22 vets commit suicide every day in the U.S.</p><p>All of this is familiar to Bizzle.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7008_009-scr.JPG" style="float: right; height: 169px; width: 320px;" title="The America Cares Too storefront in Forest Park (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>&ldquo;Some of them suffer from PTSD, some anxiety, some have flash backs, shell shock...&rdquo; Bizzle said of the vets he serves.</p><p>While the VA does offer mental health services, Bizzle said traumatized vets who don&rsquo;t feel they can trust the government aren&rsquo;t left with many options.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s kinda hard for a soldier that&rsquo;s coming off active duty to get those kinda treatments in the civilian world because everything costs money, unfortunately,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>He believes the best solutions can come from veterans themselves.</p><p>&ldquo;No offense to politicians but they don&rsquo;t understand the veterans situation, and by me being a veteran I could understand our own situation, the problems we deal with,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The main room at America Cares Too contains a donated TV and a desk with no phone (Bizzle uses his cellphone to run the project because the ComEd bill was too high).</p><p>Three computers sit on folding tables donated by a recovery group that meets next door. And in the back there&rsquo;s a spare office where Bizzle keeps vets&rsquo; files. The walls are lines with boxes of donated toys and socks and underwear purchased with TJ Maxx and Target gift cards. Bizzle&rsquo;s appeals to local government bodies and the VA for financial support <a href="http://austintalks.org/2013/01/former-austin-resident-starts-veterans-nonprofit/" target="_blank">have been unsuccessful so far</a>.</p><p><strong>A chronic lack of support</strong></p><p>This month Esquire reported that the Navy Seal who shot Osama Bin Laden is jobless and living without health insurance. The headline: <a href="http://www.esquire.com/features/man-who-shot-osama-bin-laden-0313" target="_blank">&ldquo;The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden...Is Screwed.&rdquo;</a> Although Esquire&rsquo;s story can&rsquo;t be independently verified - the man in question chose to remain anonymous for his own safety - it reflects a widespread disappointment in the services provided by the state for vets, especially younger vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In the case of &ldquo;the shooter,&rdquo; as he&rsquo;s called in Esquire, the Navy Seal retired after 16 years of service. That meant no pension, and no more health care for his family. The cutoff point for long-term support is 20 years of service.</p><p>Bizzle&rsquo;s located just a couple miles from the Hines VA Hospital, which helps thousands of vets each year. The Hines complex includes housing for homeless vets, and a network of social service providers. I called them to ask how a vet would end up at a little joint like Bizzle&rsquo;s.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the predominant reasons are, there are a small cohort of veterans who just do not want to be in any system,&rdquo; said Anthony Spillie, the head of social work at Hines.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7009_015-scr.JPG" style="height: 214px; width: 380px; float: left;" title="Homer Bizzle reorganizes his small food pantry for veterans. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" />There are an estimated 18,000 homeless vets in the greater Chicago area, and he says that despite offering extensive services, some people just fall through the cracks. Groups like Bizzle&rsquo;s can help catch them.</p><p>&ldquo;There is no wrong door approach,&rdquo; Spillie said. &ldquo;You know most of the time you think of accessing services through the front door. Well, we&rsquo;ll open whatever door we can possibly open for veterans to end and treat their homelessness.</p><p>Bizzle wants to hire veterans to be case workers and counselors, and one day turn his own Bellwood home into a transitional housing center for <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-27/returning-home-presents-different-challenges-female-veterans-89707" target="_blank">female vets</a>.</p><p>But the lack of support is frustrating - and so is seeing what his fellow vets go through.</p><p>&ldquo;It be times I wanna throw that uniform in the garbage,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants" target="_blank">Lewis Wallace on Twitter</a>.</p></p> Wed, 13 Feb 2013 10:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/forest-park-vet-struggles-keep-others-out-homelessness-105502 Illinois donates surplus computers to vets http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-donates-surplus-computers-vets-104060 <p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill.&nbsp; &mdash; Illinois is donating 400 repaired, surplus computers to veterans groups for job training programs.</p><p>The state Department of Central Management Services and the Department of Veterans&#39; Affairs announced the plans Tuesday.</p><p>The computers are desktops and laptops from federal agencies made available through Illinois&#39; federal surplus program. They&#39;re refurbished and have had hard-drive cleanups and minor repairs, so they should be ready for use. Each computer has Windows software installed.</p><p>Illinois officials estimate the computers are worth approximately $150,000.</p><p>Earlier this year, the state&#39;s Central Management Services department donated millions of dollars&#39; worth of surplus boots, coats, mittens and other winter gear to charitable groups.</p></p> Wed, 28 Nov 2012 08:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-donates-surplus-computers-vets-104060 Chicago's National Veterans Art Museum finds new home in Portage Park http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-national-veterans-art-museum-finds-new-home-portage-park-103765 <p><p>The National Veterans Art Museum will be celebrating this Veterans Day in a new home on Chicago&rsquo;s Northwest Side.</p><p>The museum is leaving its South Loop location on Indiana Avenue for a larger space at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Portage Park.</p><p>NVAM Executive Director Levi Moore says the move is an opportunity for the museum to broaden existing exhibits.</p><p>&ldquo;We want to be able to show the diversity of the US. military. Whether that is the growing role of women, the role of Latinos, the roles of Asians, the roles of African-Americans, we really want our museum to look more like Chicago,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The museum also plans to reach out more to the community through programs like art therapy for children. Moore says kids growing up in violent neighborhoods can have symptoms similar to veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.</p><p>The chance to interact with other community groups also played a role in the museum&rsquo;s decision. Portage Park is home to several arts organizations including Arts Alive 45 and the Portage Park Theater.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We won&rsquo;t be alone. We&rsquo;re going to have various entities working with us. They&rsquo;re promoting the area as a destination for arts and cultural arts. It&rsquo;s actually part of the Chicago cultural plan,&rdquo; Moore said.</p><p>NVAM Communications Director Sarah Eilefson says the museum hopes highway proximity and ample parking will bring in more traffic from tourists and school groups.&nbsp;</p><p>The new location will open its doors Nov. 11 with the unveiling of Welcome Home, an exhibit exploring the experiences of veterans across generations.</p></p> Sat, 10 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-national-veterans-art-museum-finds-new-home-portage-park-103765 Discrimination against our country's heroes http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/discrimination-against-our-countrys-heroes-103510 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F65375087&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false&amp;color=ff7700" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Read part one of Josh&#39;s story, <strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/soldiers-struggle-economic-ladder-103481">here</a></strong>.</p><p>On one of the days I visited him, Josh Jones shared with me a video that one of his fellow Army buddies taped while they were serving in Iraq.</p><p>In the video, big orange fireballs light up the night sky. Their unit had just come under mortar fire from insurgents.</p><p>That seems like a lifetime ago for 25-year-old Josh. He&rsquo;s been home for two years and since then has been living a life with much less excitement than what he&rsquo;s used to.</p><p>After serving in Iraq, Josh felt like he had earned a decent job. When he returned home, he thought he&#39;d work as a cop or a prison guard. Instead, he wound up unemployed for a year.</p><p><strong>A broken promise</strong></p><p>You hear this kind of frustration a lot from young veterans who served in the wars that followed 9/11. They have a sense that some kind of promise to service members has been broken. Many young veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq are struggling.&nbsp; Unemployment for young vets hovers near 30 percent and tens of thousands of former soldiers are homeless.&nbsp;</p><p>After spending years living a serviceman&rsquo;s life of strict rules, regulations and customs, Josh felt unstable.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&#39;t know what the hell I was going to do. I was going to head home to my family obviously, but I didn&#39;t know where I wanted to go. I mean, I didn&#39;t want to take a step back in my opinion and work at some, be some cashier at a grocery store or a gas station,&rdquo; Josh said.</p><p>Derek Osgood is a friend of Josh&#39;s, a 23 year old Marine who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.</p><p>He says he feels like his service isn&rsquo;t appreciated.</p><p>&ldquo;I hate to say it, but when it comes to getting out, as soon as the military knows you&#39;re not going to re-enlist and you&#39;re leaving, it&#39;s like you&#39;re dead to them -- you know, you&#39;re just another body,&rdquo; Derek said.</p><p>Derek and Josh are part of a veterans club -- a kind of military support group on the campus of Paul Smiths College, a school in upstate New York.</p><p>Josh says group members have a sense of camaraderie because in this environment, where most students are about five years younger than all of the veterans, there&rsquo;s always someone who knows what it means to be a soldier.</p><p>At a meeting in the cafeteria, Derek says he&#39;s proud of his war service and thinks he learned important lessons from the Marines about discipline and hard work.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/joshcafe.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right; margin: 3px;" title="Josh Jones (second from right) talks schoolwork with Tyler Twitchel, Jesse Smith and Josh's girlfriend Danielle Rageotte at lunchtime in the cafetaria. Photo: Mark Kurtz" />But when it comes to actual training that might give him an advantage in the civilian job market, he shakes his head.</div><p>&ldquo;I picked infantry and when it came to job skills, that pretty much gave me little or none in the way of job experiences that I would benefit from,&rdquo; Derek said.</p><p>Josh too is skeptical about the opportunities for veterans to climb the economic ladder.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&#39;s there, but it&#39;s more of a stepladder now. It has a ceiling to it. You can only go so high. Unless you have a strong network of people in power, it&#39;s a stepladder, not a ladder,&rdquo; Josh said.</p><p>This kind of pessimism is common among vet. Studies show that even many service-members who come home with marketable skills are struggling to find good jobs.</p><p>Sometimes it&#39;s difficult to match military experience with civilian job descriptions. Sometimes it&#39;s just the sour economy.</p><p>But there&#39;s also a concern among military support groups that wartime veterans face an actual stigma.</p><p><strong>Facing discrimination</strong></p><p>Twenty-five-year-old Justin Jankuv is part of the campus military club. He&rsquo;s a former Army soldier who fought in Iraq.</p><p>He says there&rsquo;s a stereotype against veterans.</p><p>&ldquo;Oh, this guys is from Iraq or this guy is a veteran. So, he&#39;s got post traumatic stress disorder or he&#39;s a loony...because there&#39;s a lot of people out there who get that impression of us,&rdquo; Justin said.</p><p>Derek agrees. He says employers are afraid of taking a risk by hiring a veteran.</p><p>&ldquo;It&#39;s sort of like they put a smile on their face and say &lsquo;Yeah, you&#39;re a veteran, good on you, good on you we&#39;ll call you back.&rsquo; And in the back of their head, they&#39;re thinking, There&#39;s no way.&nbsp; No way I&#39;m going to hire him,&rdquo; Derek said.</p><p>He adds that he&rsquo;d rather have someone tell him they don&rsquo;t hire veterans because it otherwise makes him question his performance in the interview.</p><p>A study released in June of this year found that many of these impressions among soldiers are accurate.</p><p>Employers told researchers with the Center for A New American Security that one top reason they don&#39;t hire veterans is a negative stereotype -- a fear that they might be &quot;damaged&quot; or might go on &quot;rampages.&quot;</p><p>Ryan Gallucci, with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a soldier advocacy group, says many civilian employers are simply ignorant about what goes on in war-time.<br /><br />He says since only one percent of Americans have served in the current conflicts, it&rsquo;s normal to have a cultural misunderstanding.</p><p>Gallucci did a tour in Iraq in 2003. He says important steps have been taken to help younger veteran reintegrate, including the 9/11 GI Bill and the Hire a Hero Act.</p><p>Without that aid, none of the servicemen interviewed for this story could have afforded college.</p><p><strong>Finding solutions</strong></p><p>Some companies have also set quotas for hiring veterans and created buddy programs that partner older service-members with young people just back from war.</p><p>A a new billion-dollar veterans jobs bill would have put 20,000 vets to work as cops and firefighters. But it was defeated by Republicans in September.</p><p>And Galluci says a lot more needs to be done by the government and by private firms to prove that military service is still a path to the middle class.</p><p>&ldquo;So what we really are trying to do now is maintain the military&#39;s reputation as a quality force, that it prepares service members for good careers when they leave,&rdquo;Galluci said.</p><p>He says that this type of preparation allows for economic mobility.</p><p>Josh Jones says he&#39;s grateful to be back in school, to have this second chance. Many of his veteran friends are still unemployed, working dead end jobs, or back living with their parents.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/josh1.jpg" style="float: left; height: 166px; width: 250px; " title="Josh hopes college will prepare him to enter the workforce." /></p><p>But Josh says he&#39;s anxious about the day when he&#39;ll have to hit the streets again, afraid that long after the war is over, companies will see him too as damaged goods.</p><p>As the war in Afghanistan winds down, tens of thousands more Americans will be making this transition to civilian life.</p><p>Whether or not they succeed could how define the next generation sees military service:&nbsp;As an economic opportunity or one more dream that has turned into a dead end. &nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 31 Oct 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/discrimination-against-our-countrys-heroes-103510