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This week, MOAA Spouse had a very interesting link to an article about a talk given by the former Fed Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. He was at the Brookings Institution and one point he discussed was whether the military training provided to enlisted members is of any value. The article’s title, Being in the Military Won’t Actually Help You in the Real World, clearly states his stance. I clearly disagree with this, and am a little confused by his position.
Part of my opinion comes from the vets I see as a university faculty member (the University of Colorado Colorado Springs attracts quite a few vets – and welcomes them). When I see these students in my classes straight up against their peers who came directly from high school, the difference in the quality of student is stark. To me, this obviously demonstrates that the vets’ training has prepared these men and women to be focused, well spoken, and dedicated – all essential skills for success. On the MOAA Spouse Facebook page, was a great comment along these lines:
“In an era when employers have difficulty finding young people with skills like showing up every day on time, dressing properly and speaking respectfully and helpfully to customers and co-workers, the military is contributing young people who are not only great team players to the workplace, they are contributing leaders who know how to make a difference, every day.”
Possibly, Ben was looking only at hard skills. However, from what I’ve seen, young men and women are thrown into training and work that an 18 year-old out of high school would only get after a couple of years of doing grunt work. These young enlisted get trained straight off to be medics, mechanics, IT specialists, administrators, etc. All great skills for the real world.
Ben claims that vets have a higher rate of unemployment. I’d like to see the research, but I wonder if that’s because some are using the GI Bill to go to college, or some are even staying at home while their spouse stays in.
Speaking of the GI Bill, that’s one thing Ben didn’t mention. The civilian 27-year-old who didn’t go to college is going to be unlikely to ever go because he or she would usually have to pay for it on their own and go part-time during off-work hours. The vet gets his college paid for and can go full-time.
And, to take the GI Bill issue one step further, the vets’ training allows them to have a better idea about what to study – so they finish sooner than a lot of civilian students who major in one area, then switch to another, then don’t know what to do with their lives. So, the military training is even having real world application toward when the vets study in college.
I don’t have enough space to go into this issue further. I see Mr. Bernanke’s comment as another example of a DC policy maker making policy and comments on military life without having a true feel for it. He went to Harvard and MIT, and then went on to become a professor. All admirable; but, no military service.
However, I do give him more credit than others because he has warned that “reduced defense spending could have adverse long-term economic impacts, including undermining technological innovations that ultimately produce jobs in the private sector.” It’s a little ironic because those tech innovations are being done by these vets whose training won’t help them in the real world.
How about you readers – do you agree or disagree with Ben Bernanke’s comments? Please leave a comment below or on the MOAA Spouse Facebook Page.