"Honor a hero and hire a vet"


Monday, November 5 -- We couldn't have said it better ourselves. These are the words of Jessica Cheng, Program Coordinator for JVS Veterans First, spoken near the close of our JVS Veterans First 2012 video, now viewable on Youtube. In that 4 and a half minute video, we meet former Sergeant, U.S. Army Edward Chinchilla, first Lieutenant Rommel Cruz of the National Guard, former Private E-2., U.S. Army, Anthony Duke and former U.S. Navy Corpsman Alma Zavala

, all of whom give us a sense of the challenges our servicemen and women face when they return from overseas and face the transition to civilian life.

Job-hunting, for example...

Think it's tough for the rest of us? Consider the men and women who have the capability to perform extraordinary feats of bravery and heroism but who possess no piece of paper or degree that says they are qualified to perform these functions.

Recently Jon Stewart, host of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, threw this problem into the forefront of the national debate.

Well, at least he put it front and center for all of the "Daily Show's" fans to see so that we could all have a breather from election skewering. Stewart conducted a mock job interview of a couple of U.S. Army medics who have saved lives but who would probably have difficulty getting hired by any hospital in the country. On paper at least they're considered "not qualified."

In his post for Forbes.com, Paul Rieckhoff notes the recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report figures that post Sept. 11 vets have a 10% unemployment rate compared to 7.9% for the rest of the country.

Once they return stateside, vets face the extra bureaucratic level - and considerable financial debt - of having to retrain for what they already know how to do.

Zavala, a UCLA graduate, summed it up at our recent gala. "I found myself with extraordinary discipline with amazing military experience. I found myself, as many veterans out there, unemployed. The military taught me courage, courage under fire, I can face ... anything you can throw at me, I can handle it. What they didn’t teach me was courage after the fire as a civilian. How do you face that?"

We'll give you the entire transcript of Zavala's quite amazing speech as Veteran's Day approaches. Be sure to watch JVS Veterans First on Youtube.

And if you're ever in the position to do so, like our fearless Veterans First leader Jessica Cheng says: "honor a hero and hire a vet."