Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

America Wants You – A Call To Arms

I write a lot about war veterans. My next novel, Unwanted Heroes, focuses on the treatment and support (or lack thereof) of war veterans. I lived in Israel for twenty years where there is national service – everyone serves 2-3 years plus a yearly requirement for up to four weeks of training and tour.

Perhaps because everyone serves, there is a national consensus to help veterans when needed. In fact, it is probably considerably a disadvantage when competing for a job if you have not served.

So it is disappointing to hear that US troops are having considerable difficulties finding jobs when they leave the armed forces. Certainly, it is part of an economic climate where companies are loath to hire new personnel, but I can’t help feeling that something more needs to be done to at least level the playing field for those who were defending our country instead of accumulating degrees and internships.

Enter AMERICA WANTS YOU, which is “a unique private sector initiative that is teaming up with corporate America to find job opportunities for those men and women who have served in our country’s military.”

The idea was inspired by an ABC News series called “Made in America,” which promoted US-made products as a way to create jobs for Americans. 

There are many celebrities involved and a groundswell of corporate support. This is an exciting combination and should be an example of how we can lift the entire country out of the recession.

With the politicians too involved in their election cycle, cooperation will need to come from elsewhere.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

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