Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina needs to get out more often.
He doesn’t think the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces do anything special that sets them apart from the rest of us. He reasons that signaling them out for extra help getting jobs after their service wouldn’t be fair to the rest of us.
So the same senator who would endorse tax breaks to giant corporations in a heartbeat cast the lone vote Thursday against a bill giving employers tax breaks for hiring military veterans. The bill also provides job counseling, training and placement assistance, with a focus on vets who’ve been unemployed for long periods.
Giving the vets a break, DeMint says, would amount to “pandering” to a particular segment of the population. “I cannot support this tax credit because I do not believe the government should privilege one American over another when it comes to work,” the Associated Press reported him saying.
Fortunately, 94 of his fellow senators saw things differently and voted in favor.
Yes, DeMint indeed needs to get our more. Not saying he should take a trip to Kandahar to go on a patrol with a Marine Recon platoon. A visit to the VA hospital in Charleston would provide sufficient enlightenment.
What he would see is what I saw in my trips there in 2010: Young men trying hard to stand tall while slowly walking the corridors with the help of canes and prosthetic legs. He’d see others confined to wheelchairs showing age beyond their years as they wait in the pharmacy line looking at the walls with what the old-timers at the VA call “the thousand-yard stare.”
A quick history lesson for the Palmetto State senator: We’ve deployed and redeployed the same active military and Nation Guard and reserve units time and again to fight the two wars we’ve been engaged in since 9/11. That’s time in which the men and women in these units were not gaining experience in civilian jobs or climbing any type of ladders to workplace success in their hometowns. They were, however, subduing our enemies and helping to keep another catastrophic terrorist attack form occurring.
While the nation’s population as a whole has experienced 9 percent and 10 percent unemployment in recent years, the men and women returning from the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan have endured a jobless rate of 12 percent or more.
Now, with today being Veterans Day, DeMint rejects the notion that the nation’s collective “Thank You For Your Service” should include helping our vets get back to work here at home.
Scour the biography section of DeMint’s Senate website. You won’t find any evidence the 61-year-old lawmaker ever served his country in uniform. Like former Vice President Dick Cheney, he probably had other priorities (self-preservation, perhaps?) when the nation sent young men his age to fight in Vietnam 40 some years ago.
He calls himself a “traditional values” guy.
My guess is he probably shouldn’t try to sell that line to the folks manning the bar over at the local VFW.