Here is a classy Memorial Day story:
During the surge in Iraq in 2008, Nathan Witmer led an Army scout platoon in a thicket of villages rife with insurgents and roadside bombs. What he really wants to do is direct.
Or maybe write — or produce.
“Anything with movies was always the dream,” said Mr. Witmer, who left active duty in 2010.
Like many troops leaving the military, he was steered instead toward jobs in government agencies that offered preferential hiring or with big corporations that recruited veterans, and he assumed his hope of working in show business would remain only that.
But after selling medical equipment for two years, he had the chance to join a five-week industry boot camp designed to bring young veterans into the television business. To his surprise, it was run by one of the Iraq war’s fiercest critics, Jon Stewart, the longtime host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”
“It was actually inspirational,” said Mr. Witmer, who went on to work at Fox News and then found a job as a “Daily Show” associate field segment producer. “We hear ‘Thank you for your service’ all the time, but here was concrete action, people working to really make a difference. And it changed lives. I’m proof of that.”
“This is ready to franchise. Please steal our idea,” Mr. Stewart said in an interview at his Manhattan studio recently. “It isn’t charity. To be good in this business you have to bring in different voices from different places, and we have this wealth of experience that just wasn’t being tapped.”
Veterans are less likely to struggle to find work after war — their unemployment rate has been lower than the comparable civilian rate for years — but few land in the entertainment industry, according to the industry group Veterans in Film and Television.
120 veterans commit suicide every week. (17 a day)
• 1000 veterans attempt suicide in the VA each month.
• About 20 percent of the U.S. population committing suicide is our Veterans.
• Veterans who fought in Iraq, Afghanistan and other terrorism-related conflicts were four times more likely to commit suicide (18 to 24 age group)
• 33 percent of our nation’s homeless population consists of veterans (about 200,000 veterans)
• A higher percentage of post-Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffered from PTSD than from any other previous war because of “stop loss” (an involuntary extension of service in the military), multiple tours, and greater prevalence of brain injuries
There was once a man who had two sons. To the elder, he said, “Go and help the troops in their struggle.” So the elder son got five draft deferments, put on a flag lapel pin, sought high office, ordered men into battle in an unjust war, stayed home, got rich, sent their jobs overseas, cut their benefits, said “Thank you for your service”, and drove past them in his limo as they sat homeless and begging on his way to Halliburton stockholder meetings.
To the younger son, the man said, “Go and help the troops in their struggle.” So the younger son went out, protested sending good men into a futile and unjust war, chronicled the lies and selfishness of the older brother, demanded the troops receive the care his selfish older brother denied soldiers returning from the war, and created a way for soldiers coming back from the war to find work, support their families, afford the medical treatment they needed for their PTSD, express their creativity and live happily ever after.
Which of the two sons did his father’s will?