The Civilian-Military Divide

Friday, November 11, 2011

TIME Washington deputy bureau chief, Mark Thompson, discusses the civilian-military divide and how it plays out as new veterans return home. Matt Gallagher, senior writing manager at IAVA and an Iraq War veteran, joins the conversation. 

Comments [26]

Joel from Nyack, NY

War bonds are a bad idea for a war that one does not support. Getting into a war in Iraq was a mistake to start with. One can support the troops without supporting the war.

Oct. 04 2012 11:34 AM
Soldier's Father from Westchester

To Mike from Inwood:

You really think being "chained to a Blackberry 24/7" is equivalent to serving in a forward operating base in Afghanistan for a year? Thanks for a great example of the civilian/military disconnect!

As to your other points,

1. my son is a college graduate (Notre Dame), as is every other officer I have met. The fact is that military members (officers and enlisted) are on average much better educated than the general population, even when you control for age.

2. I worked for a Fortune 50 corporation for many years, and the smart managers all loved ex-military -- because they knew hot to get up, get going and get the assigned job done, rather than sitting around contemplating the poor hand life had dealt them (which group often included poor downtrodden but well-paid corporate drones like me).

P.S. Your Blackberry has an "Off" button (use it), and you sleep in your own bed. (enjoy it).. On Veterans Day, at least be a little empathetic to the soldiers who don't have these luxuries.

Nov. 11 2011 11:15 AM
Christine from Richmond Hill

I would like to let veterans know about the Borough of Manhattan College Continuing Education Health Lattice Program. We are a program that was developed thru the Dept of Labor to assist people, and especially veterans, in getting their foot in the door to the healthcare industry with specific emphasis on Health Information Technology. Our main goal is to provide a strong foundation that will help people get jobs in healthcare. We have a job development team as well as internship opportunities that can lead to employment. I am also going to be diligently pursuing how our program can can advantage of the Veteran Employment Initiative and see who we can collaborate with prospective employers who would be interested in hiring our veteran students. This program is a 5 week program and is free of charge.

If interested, please email me at

Nov. 11 2011 10:40 AM

Regarding the last comment from one of the guests on how hard it is to get into the military -- down South, judges still give yong petty criminals the option of either serving time or enlisting. One out of every four guys I've talked to in Central FL gives me the same story: "I dropped out of high school, couldn't find work and started to get in trouble. The court said I'd do six months or I could join the Army."

Nov. 11 2011 10:35 AM
Mike from Inwood

John from NYC: Perhaps you do not know math but plenty of Americans do. People with degrees in mathematics have a hard time finding jobs. Employers want to hire the Indians and the Chinese because they are docile and will work for less.

Nov. 11 2011 10:33 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I think another reason that Americans who haven't served don't understand those who have is that we don't see what they go through on the news the way we did during the Vietnam War. Starting w/the 1st Persian Gulf War, the gov't. has put such tight control on what the media can show--including the arrival home of troops in coffins--that many younger Americans have never seen real, close-up war footage.

Nov. 11 2011 10:33 AM
AFrazier from Carroll Gardens, Bklyn

Although it would have been the right thing to do, the US Senate did not unanimously pass the legislation designed to give employers tax breaks for hiring military veterans.

The good senator from South Carolina, Jim DeMint, describing the measure as “inherently unfair,” stated that he “did not believe the government should privilege one American over another when it comes to work,"
Senator DeMint then voted against the measure. The legislation passed 94-1.

Nov. 11 2011 10:33 AM
John A.

Soldier's Father:
We have no farther to look than: "Corduroy Appreciation on 11/11/11".

Nov. 11 2011 10:31 AM
Mike from Inwood

Who is Matt Gallagher to talk about 8-hour days? Obviously, he's never ben chained to a Blackberry and working 24/7.

Nov. 11 2011 10:30 AM
Mike from Inwood

For the most part, people join the military because it is their best financial option. Many have not graduated from high school. They've spent their formative years learning to obey orders in stressful situations, not thinking creatively to solve problems in new ways. They were not the cream of the crop to start with and some are now damaged goods.

Why are people hesitant to hire vets? Do employers need people who can follow orders in stressful situations or people who can think creatively to redesign things?

Nov. 11 2011 10:29 AM
John from NYC

gavel writes:

"By his definition, John must be in the general workforce, because that is the most incompetent, moronic statement ever posted on this site."

Argument by name calling.

I could make the argument, but try Thomas Friedman's -- That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World

Try to hire someone who can do math -- why the pleading from American industry to let in to the country well educated Chinese and Indians -- they can do math.

Nov. 11 2011 10:28 AM

Thank you for service in killing, maiming, raping, and otherwise traumatizing millions of people who did nothing to you. Show is a joke and bore.

Nov. 11 2011 10:25 AM
Tom P from Fanwood, NJ

I would like to see more veterans pursue political office. Their experience would likely add a dimension that is missing when discussing future military actions.

Nov. 11 2011 10:25 AM

If hiring vets is "good business" why should we be expected to subsidize "good business sense" to the tune of $9600/hire when there are millions of other Americans unemployed, in poverty and in depression who are collateral damage from these pointless wars?

Nov. 11 2011 10:25 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Our nation's elimination of the draft in the '70's as a reaction to the Vietnam War has had far-reaching consequences for our society, all negative.

This includes the cultural divide between the segments in society with members in the military and the vast remainder with none, financial implications, the lack of social benefit of folks from different strata intermixing, etc.

I heard Tom Brokaw -- whom I greatly respect -- on WNYC recently mention that the military loves the current volunteer army because the soldiers "want to be there" (I'm paraphrasing), and they have a superior force.

But I think the negative social aspects harms the social well-being and that harm will have longer-lasting consequences. And look, it was Brokaw who labeled the WWII vets as the "greatest generation" -- we won THE war, and we did it with a draft, so I ain't buying that argument.

Nov. 11 2011 10:25 AM
John A.

Isn't the real meat of this topic that people typically serve in the military in their college years 18-21, and the workplace has a strong bias for people who opted instead for college in those years?

Nov. 11 2011 10:25 AM
josh karan from Washington Heights

Prosecute the leaders for these immoral wars, not the troops subject to the poverty draft.

This segment is the Brian Lehrer show at its best -- insightful, compassionate, moving.

No one does these human stories better.

Nov. 11 2011 10:23 AM

Both of these wars were, pretty much, a waste of lives and money.

The government/Bush regime/crporate media made sure that there would be little or no real awareness or understanding on the part of the public.....because if there WAS...the wars could not have been started...or continued.

None of the money spent on these wars has been from taxes's all borrowed money that will impact on future geneartins.

Trilions of dollars in costs of damaged vets will be borne by future generations.

Meanwhile, all of the contractors who made "killings" on these wars got their cash up front and they are lauging all the way to their offshore bank accounts!

God bless the Vets, but they were and still are being, ill used.

I strongly reccoment Chris Hedges book, "War is a force that gives us Meaning". I disagree with some of Hedges' points but he nails the generalized evil and stupidity of war...

Again, if Americans actually UNDERSTOOD how ugly and evil the process of war is...........we would never have allowed Bush to start these two insane actions.

Nov. 11 2011 10:21 AM
Soldier's Father from Westchester, NY

NPR can be just as guilty of the disconnect. For example, this morning's Takeaway had the obligatory thank you for the veterans, but when the sophisticated political panel (Ron Christie, Farai Chideay, Jeff Yang) were asked how they would note "11-11-11", all joked about the numbers on the clock and NONE (including Hockenberry) even mentioned the veterans, or even the historical Armistice Day significance. Not bad people, just completely disconnected. Scary.

Nov. 11 2011 10:20 AM
Alan from 150 Varick St.

I guess a lot of us think that these were pointless wars to fight. They haven't done any good, and their reason keeps changing daily (WMDs, democracy, nation building, terrorism, etc.). Instead of saying there's a divide and mandating a draft, ask they question: why go to war in the first place?

Nov. 11 2011 10:19 AM

By his definition, John must be in the general workforce, because that is the most incompetent, moronic statement ever posted on this site.

Nov. 11 2011 10:17 AM
Orin from Queens

The divide comes from the desire of our leaders to not have to convince the American public to go to war. They had so much trouble with us citizens during the Vietnam war that they decided to get rid of the draft. This allowed them to start any war without having to stage Gulf of Tonkin incidents, since there was no mass of Americans with investment in keeping the peace.

Nov. 11 2011 10:16 AM
John A.

Did our soldiers have any power to select Afghanistan vs Iraq? I suspect that's a no. I did not support the Iraq war, but I have no negative judgment at all to give soldiers who were assigned to Iraq. By the way: Thank-You.

Nov. 11 2011 10:16 AM
John from NYC

A major difference between the military and the rest is --

Those in the military are, for the most part, COMPETENT, they can accomplish things.

Competency has DISAPPEARED from the general workforce -- NO ONE CAN DO ANYTHING without messing it up.

Nov. 11 2011 10:12 AM

The United States invaded a country that didn't attack us (Iraq). Our invasion killed, maimed and made homeless 200,000 Iraqis. This was a war crime and the Nurmeberg Trials concluded that following orders is not an acceptable excuse, ergo, our soldiers are arguably war criminals.

Nov. 11 2011 10:11 AM
Jenny from Brooklyn, NY

Matt Ufford, a blogger, former Marine officer, and Iraq war veteran, writes a beautiful piece about trying to understand their experience. As he says, "Not everyone comes back broken, but nobody comes back whole."

Nov. 11 2011 10:05 AM

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