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 Response Page - Shellito  Interview -      


These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Larry Shellito Interview of
08-03-2012.
 

Overview

Larry Shellito, Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, paints a picture of serious problems facing returning veterans and argues that readjusting to civilian life, not finding jobs, is the greatest problem. He says Minnesota has been more proactive than most states in helping both deployed troops and their families and returning vets, but more needs to be done. He closes the discussion with concerns about the impact of likely forthcoming military downsizing on programs and services for veterans.

For the complete interview summary see:  http://bit.ly/RUp3RA

Response Summary:  Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Commissioner Shellito. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Readjustment more important. (7.3 average response) Readjustment to civilian life, not finding jobs, is the biggest problem facing returning veterans.

2. Service record hidden. (5.6 average response) Nevertheless, fears of job discrimination against military veterans are real. Some job-seeking vets, fearing employers would regard their military service negatively, choose to keep such information out of their resumes.

3. Job search skills training offered. (7.8 average response) Some major employers in Minnesota are performing a valuable service to returning vets by offering special classes on how to apply for jobs and how to conduct themselves in interviews.

4. Problem likely to worsen. (8.1 average response) The magnitude of the readjustment problem is likely to increase with a downsizing of the Department of Defense.

5. Vet skills not given credit. (7.3 average response) Some colleges and universities don't give sufficient academic credit for skills that vets have learned during deployment because the education system needs the revenue from selling more college credits.

6. Local groups should do more. (6.9 average response)  Local chapters of the VFW and American Legion should do more to help returning veterans in their own communities become readjusted to civilian life.

7. Additional efforts unwarranted. (2.1 average response) Veterans' problems don't merit significantly more government or private sector intervention, since the entire economy faces more immediate and widespread challenges.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Readjustment more important.

0%

0%

33%

40%

27%

15

2. Service record hidden.

0%

13%

67%

7%

13%

15

3. Job search skills training offered.

0%

0%

27%

33%

40%

15

4. Problem likely to worsen.

0%

0%

7%

60%

33%

15

5. Vet skills not given credit.

0%

0%

27%

53%

20%

15

6. Local groups should do more.

0%

7%

33%

47%

13%

15

7. Additional efforts unwarranted.

47%

27%

20%

7%

0%

15

Individual Responses:

Bert LeMunyon  (7.5)  (5)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (2.5)

Scott Halstead  (5)  (5)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (5)  (0)

6. Local groups should do more. VFW's and American Legions should be provided financial resources.

7. Additional efforts unwarranted. Our elected leaders should be required to fund Veteran's assistance (and the fighting) with a tax increase when they enter into war and skirmishes so the costs of war are paid currently and not in the future. Federal, state and local governments should all have mandatory Veteran's hiring requirements.  National Guard and Reserve troops should not be sent to fight unless their is a declared war and the draft is applied.  In addition, there needs to be limits on the frequency they are sent into combat.

Ray Ayotte  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (5)  (7.5)  (0)

Anonymous    (7.5)  (5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (0)

Virginia Eernisse  (5)  (10)  (5)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (0)

1. Readjustment more important. You need both, and the place to find some natural support for them is on the job.  If the only support you get for your needs is "paid" support then you are not really getting you needs met, but are a commodity.

2. Service record hidden. While the employers that I know "tout" their support of the returning troops, it is mostly lip service, and they do not want to take on that "burden" (actually called it that in private).  But on the other hand if you do not tell them that you know how to do X job they will want to know where you learned it so...always unintended consequences.  I do not see this as either-or but good for some and bad for some.

3. Job search skills training offered. This is full employment for non-vets, mostly in an educational setting where the employer pays for their tuition and probably gets a tax credit of some kind.  Although, I do know of one that actually trained displaced workers (not vets) on the job and kept them as employees.  Of course that was 15 years ago. These folks are usually associated with an education program and, like any program, it does not work.  Most people get their jobs by hearing from friends and families and knowing how is not the same thing as actually applying.  Many of these folks with TBI will not succeed with "train/place" but could with "place/train" and a program similar to job coaching that can be handed over to a co-worker later.

4. Problem likely to worsen. Nowhere to go but up.

5. Vet skills not given credit. The Public and Private University systems could do something to see that students like the tanker driver are given credit, but the flip side of that coin is that they would have to share their record with the school.  While an employer should not ask about their military service if they do not want to share it they can hardly get by without it.  "Previous jobs?"

6. Local groups should do more. I believe that each group is unique in every community.  The VFW is/was the only legal place to get a drink in my "dry" county in Texas for many years.  Sometimes that nurtures the self-medication that many traumatized vets gravitate to, while neglecting their other responsibilities.  Sort of the local beer joint (with mixed drinks) where they talk about the same thing day in and day out. More talk and no walk.

7. Additional efforts unwarranted. I believe that all you really need to know you learned in kindergarten about right and wrong.  If you messed it up you clean it up.  I bet few of these vets, especially the younger ones, had a clue what war was that was not on TV.  Our President got us in this war and he certainly was a part of the (government) and the (government) needs to be involved in cleaning it up.

Dave Broden  (10)  (5)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (0)

1. Readjustment more important. Certainly the whole life experience must be the focus. The family, the community, and the workplace. Too often we focus on only one. The discussion of how to fit the pieces together for the adjustment and integration back into a seamless life with all is critical, and it requires the participation of all citizens.

2. Service record hidden. Business initiatives are increasing the focus on welcoming vets to the workplace. The military is also helping to break the negative. Hiding the veteran status is an unfortunate side of the issue that must be broken by the public, business, and the individual involved. The negative must and can be made a positive.

3. Job search skills training offered. Rather than say “some” we must say many and an increasing number of not only companies, but education organizations (and) business organizations (e.g. chambers of commerce, unions etc.) Building public support and participation in the process is a component that can grow and strengthen the opportunities for the vets.

4. Problem likely to worsen. This is an interesting subject. Downsizing of the Department of Defense and related industries is one side; the other is the side of Veterans Affairs, a separate  but related organization, and also the role of the Departments of Labor, Commerce, and Education. Further this must be both a federal and state topic--even local. There might even be an argument that it will improve as the Department of Defense shrinks and the focus is more in integration of veterans into society and the workplace.

5. Vet skills not given credit. This is a key point--education is often far too much focused on the revenue side rather than the competency and capability side. This may open opportunities for added focus in the education community on skills and where they fit vs. just revenue and grades. Providing courses that build and expand the competency of vets for the workplace opportunities can be a plus for education, value, business, and the vet.

6. Local groups should do more. Local community participation in the integration role should be a focus. There is however an issue of whether in today’s world do organizations such as VFW or Legion etc., have a role, are they accepted and more importantly can they or do they have the understanding to be of assistance vs., (be) just a social club. Some incentives to these organizations to play a more active role should be considered.

7. Additional efforts unwarranted. Service to the country must remain a commitment that an individual makes that gets a thank-you and reward from all citizens--it is a strength of the US and particularly as we have an all-volunteer force. The efforts on behalf of vets not only serve the vets but build an environment of concern and recognition of the overall economic issue and will offer related opportunities and resources for all citizens.

Don Anderson  (10)  (5)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)  (5)

1. Readjustment more important. Military life is entirely different from civilian life, and given the atmosphere the returning vet comes home to, i.e., a negative view from civilians who haven't experienced the recent war activity, it does make for a major adjustment.

3. Job search skills training offered. A very good service.

5. Vet skills not given credit. Military skills are the same in many ways as civilian skills and a veteran doesn't always receive the proper credit.

6. Local groups should do more. Unfortunately many local chapters are having a hard time existing with decreased membership as the older veterans die off and can't do much to help.

Peter Hennessey  (5)  (5)  (5)  (5)  (5)  (5)  (5)

1. Readjustment more important. It would useful to see some statistics on this. Certainly in this age of the all-volunteer military, service is a career choice. And adjustment to any sort of a career change is always very difficult.

2. Service record hidden. Greatly depends on the employer and the applicant's qualification. Certainly there is little in the civilian economy that provides opportunity to people with only combat experience. But employers (in) Silicon Valley very highly value technicians who are graduates of the Navy electronics school and have service experience.

3. Job search skills training offered. Veterans are not the only ones who benefit from such help.

4. Problem likely to worsen. Well, in terms of numbers, yes. In terms of the impact on individuals, it depends on the specifics of each case.

5. Vet skills not given credit. That sounds so cynical. More likely it is the result from a lack of understanding or appreciation of the kind and amount of training the veteran had received, and how it translates to academic courses. You can always see if you can get credit for a course by taking an exam.

6. Local groups should do more. I am sure they are doing a lot and still feel they should do more.

7. Additional efforts unwarranted. Like I said, in this age of the all-volunteer military, service is a career choice. We are not discussing draftees here who can hardly wait to get out and resume their normal lives, but face a hostile environment, like the Viet Nam vets did. Many serve because they feel a calling; many serve for the training they expect to get in some useful trade or profession. The civilian economy owes it to everybody to make entry into the workforce or a career change as easy as possible, but applicants owe it to themselves to acquire the skills they need. People hire you to do a job they need to be done, not to give you a paycheck just because you need it. And you can always start a business and look for clients and customers, not employers.

Ross Kramer, Lt. Col., USAFR, Retired  (10)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (0)

1. Readjustment more important. The toughest thing about being in a combat zone is coming home and trying to fit back into your family and society. Of course a job helps that painful, stressful process. Many vets can't wait to get back to combat.

6. Local groups should do more. There needs to be a "Union" of all entities offering veteran's resources. Many veterans don't know where to turn for help. The VFW, American Legion, DAV, et al., need to work together to bring this about.  The government needs to look at the outsourcing of veteran's services to meet their overwhelming needs.

Mark Ritchie        (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

Great summary, thanks!

Terry Stone        (5)  (5)  (5)  (8)  (5)  (5)  (3)

Sixty-one veteran’s bills were introduced by this legislature. The last legislature dealt with 117 veteran’s bills. These bills seem uncoordinated and more intended to pander to the veteran vote than an effort to help veterans. 

Kevin Edberg        (8)  (7)  (5)  (7)  (8)  (5)  (2)

7. Additional efforts unwarranted.  The American public, through its Commander in Chief and with authorization of Congress, called on Americans to take on these most horrific duties in service of our nation.  The "costs of war" have never been sufficiently paid for, but especially in this new age of warfare, the on-going costs of care for surviving and wounded military are the obligation of the entire nation, and "We the People" have not yet lived up to the conversation of properly taxing ourselves to pay for the services that this group of citizens have earned through their service to the nation.   On a broader note, I am heartened that the Governor has found someone with the qualities of Gen. Shellito to lead the state agency in charge of these efforts.

Tom Swain        (5)  (5)  (7)  (7)  (5)  (8)  (2)

Carolyn Ring        (8)  (5)  (10)  (8)  (6)  (8)  (7)

Lyall Schwarzkopf   (6)  (4)  (7)  (8)  (8)  (9)  (5)

Tom Spitznagle   (8)  (5)  (8)  (6)  (8)  (3)  (0)

    

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay,  Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon,
Joe Mansky,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and  Wayne Popham 


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The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.  civiccaucus@comcast.net
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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