Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Recession-proof but Not Bullet-Proof

In a recession, there are certain things people do to get by. They pinch pennies. They leave the work force and take the time to get more education. They go into the military.

One of these things is not like the others.

When you cut back on spending, it slows the economy down even further. Eventually, though, the economy recovers and you have more savings (or less debt).

Similarly, going to grad school during a recession takes you out of the work force at a time when there's less demand for workers. When demand picks up again, you have more knowledge and better credentials. You might be able to get a better job.

When people went into the military for the war in Iraq, as previously pointed out in this blog:
  • Young Americans came home with grave mental health problems.
  • The military tried its best to deny them medical coverage.
  • Many had problems adjusting to nonviolent civilian life.
  • Vets came home with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. They will be at greater risk for heart attack than the rest of us as they grow older.
  • The military also tried to cheat returning veterans out of their costly GI benefits, or "bait and switch," giving vets much less than they were promised when they joined.
  • Women in the military were sexually harassed and, too often, raped by their fellow soldiers.
  • KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary, exposed soldiers to sodium dichromate, "one of the most potent carcinogens" known to man while they guarded a water treatment plant in Iraq that the company was repairing.
  • Military contractors suffered the same mental and physical wounds as soldiers.

    "Typically a bad economy has worked to the benefit of the military," retired Navy Rear Admiral John D. Hutson told the Boston Globe. But it's worked to the injury of the people who joined the military.
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