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Food for thought before Veterans Day

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VETERANS/By Nick Carey

After reading my special report “For U.S. veterans, the war after the war,” a colleague asked me what the impetus for the story was and how I went about getting it.

The starting point is actually mentioned in passing in the report. In August, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came to Chicago and gave a speech at the Executives’ Club of Chicago. I was sent to cover the event for Reuters and wondered in advance why on earth Mullen would come to speak to the city’s business community, instead of, say, veterans’ groups.

To my surprise, Mullen was frank about the problems facing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan – PTSD, TBI, depression, unemployment, homelessness, suicide – and openly asked local businesses to hire veterans.

I was struck when Mullen was asked to say what qualities made veterans desirable. After listing strengths like loyalty and discipline he ended with the plaintive statement: “For those who don’t know us, take a chance. It’s worth the risk.”
Mullen’s openness about veteran problems prompted me to go on a journey that began with the question: what do veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan face when they come home?