Vets Day for the Next Generation

Friday, November 11, 2011

Timothy Kudo with a fellow marine in Afghanistan. (Timothy Kudo)

Many young service members will be celebrating their Veteran’s Day this year, and they’re are still adapting to life stateside. For many that means joining organizations like the American Legion and VFW, groups that have served WWII, Korean War and Vietnam Vets for years. But for many young men and woman, these groups don’t provide the quick responses, networking and social media access this generation demands.

“These are not veterans who want to go to a beer hall and play bingo. These are veterans who want to get on Twitter, want to go on Facebook,” said 31-year-old veteran Tim Kudo.

“They want to meet whenever they want to meet, they don’t want formal meetings or vote on things or have charters,” Kudo said. The marine served a tour in Iraq as a platoon commander and a tour in Afghanistan as an executive officers. He now works for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), a new group that provides information and advocacy for veterans.

The offices are in mid-town and it looks like an internet startup, which essentially it is. It was founded in 2004 by a veteran posting information for vets from his laptop. Now it employs several dozen people. Stephen Colbert recently hosted an IAVA gala.

Kudo will march in his first Veterans Day parade on Friday in New York City. He thinks young vets can learn a lot from their predecessors.

“Young veterans coming back need to take time and pay attention to the veterans who have come back and learned the lessons and kind of struggled with some of the things they faced… just know they’re not alone and they should look to their guys left and right, just like they did overseas for help,” he said.

Marco Bongioanni, 32, was born and raised in New York and has served for 9 years in the army. The Army Major celebrated his first Veterans day in New York last year, marching in the parade, and says he plans to do the same on Friday. He is a VFW member and says it's a great organizations, but admits the demographic is graying and the publications focus mostly on heath issues and don’t address the needs of young vets.

(Photo right: Marco Bongioanni in Iraq in 2007)

“For a 25, 30-year-old-veteran, if they’re of sound physical health, yes they probably have some potential PTSD or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), that could be a challenge for them, but they still have a good portion of their lives in front of them,” he said. “But when you’re 23 and you get out of the service and you don’t have a job that’s a lot bigger of an issue.”

Bongioanni said IAVA has helped him navigate the GI bill and has kept him informed of issues in Washington better than any other source. He’s currently enrolled at Fordham University, getting a master’s in mental health counseling.


Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to TDI (Temporary Disability Insurance) when it should have been TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury).

Timothy Kudo
Marines in Afghanistan
Timothy Kudo
Timothy Kudo with a fellow marine in Afghanistan.
Timothy Kudo
Marines enjoying meal with Afghan forces.
Timothy Kudo
Marines in Iraq.


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Comments [1]

During Vietnam we had nightly broadcast of the actions in Vietnam. Many journalist were involved in the war as reporters and photographers. Now since the media is owned and controlled by one or two people, we have no coverage. propaganda by no coverage.
It is horrible that the public does realize that we have 2 wars going on. I see the poorer population going into the military, many as a way to pay for a college education, or get a job with medical benefits
My daughter as a reservist was called to active duty after 9-11. All the veterans i meet are on the poorer side, meaning they cannot afford college or health insurance. A cousin was in the pentagon when it was attacked and the plane crashed into it. She joined the marines due to this. Amazingly the pentagon higher ups were unhappy with their employee's who joined the military. If the employee joined the military they would miss many months of work, sometimes years. There was a definite prejudice against pentagon employees who were enlisting or reservist . Many were talked out of it by their higher ups, if they continued to pursue enlistment they got lot of flack and loss of promotions. As a veteran myself i was fiberglassed that the pentagon of all employers was actively discouraging their employees from joining the military.

The civilian sector is worse, unless the Congress has passed a new bonus for militarily employers, they definitely discriminate against veterans,since by law the activated employ has to be kept on the payroll, and i am not sure, but they may have to pay for family medical benefits and other benefits., while getting no work from the employees, some companies in the south had 8 of 10 employees activated, and thy had to hire and trane replacement employees , plus hold the vets jobs., all at their expense . No govt help.
i know i couple years ago there were a lot of articles about reservist unable to get jobs since the employer was woried they may get activated. The same was happening with rental apartments, even though it was illegal many landlords would nit rent to reservist.
When i left the auxiliary after 6 years active duty , i got a couple crappy jobs but luckily was hired by a big public utility, since they received a bonus for hiring veterans and they knew it was good businesses since they were used to getting up and passing inspection every morning, Pluto they were no fear of them being activated .
todays reservist actually have less benefits and coverage than active duty soldiers. They could be sent back to the war with less of a time break. Their combat tour also could be involuntarily extended where a active Burty soldier could not. i always thought that a military member on active duty would be treated the same weather reservist or active duty, but that is not the case ,the reservist get a raw deal.

Nov. 11 2011 11:23 AM

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