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 Feds discriminate against veterans

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كاتب الموضوعرسالة
Dr.Hannani Maya
المشرف العام
المشرف العام

الدولة : العراق
الجنس : ذكر
عدد المساهمات : 38973
مزاجي : أحب المنتدى
تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
الابراج : الجوزاء
التوقيت :

مُساهمةموضوع: Feds discriminate against veterans    الأربعاء 22 فبراير 2012, 01:30

Feds discriminate against veterans

Why is it so hard for US servicemen to land steady employment once coming home? For one thing, the same government that gave them guns isn’t so quick to give them jobs.The US government enacted the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) back in 1994 to make it an offense to discriminate against troops returning home on basis of their military status. Nearly 20 years later, though, a recent study reveals that a good chunk of those guilty of violating that law is the federal government itself.

In a recent Washington Post article, it’s revealed that during fiscal year 2011, nearly one-out-of-five of the complaints of violation filed regarding the USERRA were aimed at the US government. In that year alone, more than 18 percent — or 1,158 of the complaints filed — attested that the same government that sent Americans overseas to ready for war weren’t so excited to send those men and women into the workplace.

“On the one hand, the government asked me to serve in Iraq,” retired Army Brig. Gen. Michael Silva tells the Post. “On the other hand, another branch of government was not willing to protect my rights after serving.” Silva says that after serving in Iraq, he returned to the US to reclaim his job with the US Customs and Border Patrol. They had other plans.

According to the USERRA, employers are forbidden from penalizing service members due to the military service. Silva and more than a thousand other last year say that they suffered as such, however, and the guilty party was their own government. With the issue of homeless vets becoming an epidemic in America, a lack of jobs is only worsening a problem that the federal government seems unable—or unwilling — to help otherwise.

Other studies published as of late reveal that homelessness is not just a problem for American vets—it’s a practical disaster. When the 100,000 Homeless Campaign published the results of their last study in November 2011, the authors explicitly noted, "Men and women who risked their lives defending America may be far more likely to die on its streets.”“When you come home, you’re foreclosed on, your job is gone, and then they want you to go to shelters. And shelters pretty much housing criminals, drug addicts, and a lot of us can’t tolerate that lifestyle,” homeless U.S. army veteran Joe Mangione explained to RT.

Now being denied jobs by the same country they gave their lives for, critics are calling into question how the US could ignore the same troops they called up only years earlier.“There seems to be a feeling that the federal government can get away with what they’re doing,” said USERRA lawyer Matthew Estes adds to the Post.Silva seems to agree, noting that although he would eventually reach a settlement with his former employers, it was a battle he didn’t see a point in fighting.

“The whole burden is put on the serving soldier to defend your case,” says Silva.President Barack Obama has addressed the issue repeatedly, and as recently as last month’s State of the Union Address. “I'm proposing a Veterans Job Corps that will help our communities hire veterans as cops and firefighters, so that America is as strong as those who defend her,” the president said from Washington during last month’s address

“They are coming home to an unemployment rate of about 30 percent for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. This is triple the national average,” Michael Prysner recently told RT. Although Obama insists that he will make things better for the veteransexperiencing unemployment problems, that guarantee comes from the same president who is allowing for the mobilization of troops overseas after promising to put an end to needless wars.

“Joining the US military is probably one of the stupidest retirement or career moves you can make as a human being,” investigative journalist Ted Rall told RT last year.President Obama said last month that “our freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it.” Obama said, “As they come home, we must serve them as well as they served us. That includes giving them the care and benefits they have earned.”For around 1,158 veterans last year, however, that is a promise that’s yet to be fulfilled.


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Green Zone empties out

Green Zone. International Zone. The Bubble. To the foreigners still living there, the Iraqi capital’s fortified center has a new name: Ghost Town.

The Iraqi government has taken full control of the former heart of the American occupation. It decides who gets past the 17-foot-tall concrete blast walls encircling the zone.On the inside, Iraqi police and military forces have raided the offices of private security companies, prompting the firms and commercial companies that rely on them to relocate.

“They have hit a point where it’s virtually impossible to stay,” said Doug Brooks, president of the International Stability Operations Association, a trade group that represents foreign firms and nonprofit organizations in Iraq.The result: The International Zone has become the Iraqi Zone, and an increasingly isolated one at that.

“What we see now, in some ways, is they are fortifying it,” said Iraqi parliament member Mahmoud Othman.The zone, on the banks of the Tigris River, covers an area of about five square miles. It is more gray than green, with a mix of government buildings, homes and villas — crisscrossed by wide streets, skinny alleys and dusty palm trees.

In early 2009, the United States began transferring control over the zone to the Iraqi government as the country was becoming safer. Starting last spring, Iraqi officers began searching the security firms, and they later began cracking down on who gets coveted badges to get in and out of the zone, according to Brooks and businesses that have operated there. Now, the Iraqi government dominates the place.

Key parts of the Iraqi government are based there, including the office of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and parliament. Many top Iraqi officials also live inside the zone — getting to and from their walled-in homes via armed convoys. By 4 p.m., the roads are empty — save for police and soldiers posted at corners. Stand too long in one spot and they will approach with questions. Snap a photograph and they will arrive with their bosses.

Even a high-adventure tour group company that travels to Iraq said it can no longer get into the zone. And that means having to forgo sites such as the gigantic crossed sabers held by a pair of hands modeled after those of former dictator Saddam Hussein.“It drives me crazy because people, especially the Americans, ask, ‘Where are Saddam’s swords?’ ” said Geoff Hann, owner of British-based Hinterland Travel, who said he has repeatedly asked Iraqi officials to allow his groups inside.

Security concerns cited

The Iraqi government has reason for security concerns. On Nov. 28, an assassin drove his bomb-laden SUV through one of the zone’s heavily guarded entrances in what officials said was an attempt to kill the prime minister. A terrorist group that asserted responsibility, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, said the sport-utility vehicle exploded before it got to Maliki’s offices, blowing up just outside the parliament building, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, a monitoring service. Three weeks later, the U.S. Embassy, which is based in the International Zone, warned American citizens of a “severe kidnapping” threat inside the zone and throughout Iraq.

“We have to take these security measures,” Ali Hadi al-Moussawi, a spokesman for Maliki, said in an interview, adding that the zone has “definitely” become safer in the past three months.

Moussawi said the Iraqi military controls access to the zone and has curbed the issuance of badges needed to get inside. As for the private security companies, they had developed a bad reputation in Iraq for misuse of firepower, the spokesman said, adding that the zone is safer without them.

Regarding other commercial firms, he said: “If they don’t have any business in the International Zone, they have to leave.”Moussawi said that evacuated properties are now being used by Iraqis and that the zone has plenty of life. People are “moving and working,” he added.

Drop in commercial activity

Hussein established the area as a protected seat of power. When the Americans invaded in 2003, they expanded the zone by a few blocks, fortified the walls and ran the government from inside.International firms moved in, enjoying the proximity to decision-makers and private security companies. It was a place where they could cut deals even as areas outside the walls descended into violence.

Part of what made the companies feel safe — living among private security contractors whom they hired as protection — made Iraqi officials nervous. They moved to force the companies out.At the same time, the Iraqi government began cracking down on visas. Foreigners who worked in the zone said that was only more reason not to venture outside.

The thousands of foreign diplomats and support staff members who live in the zone tend to stay inside their own walled-in compounds. When they leave, they travel in armed convoys. And even their presence could decrease. On Feb. 8, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides told reporters that officials were working to reduce U.S. Embassy staffing to “a more normalized embassy presence.”

Meanwhile, the reduction of commercial activity — so close to the heart of the government — runs the risk of sending the wrong message to international firms deciding whether to come to Iraq or stay there. Firms located outside the zone have trouble getting inside to talk to officials, according to companies and trade groups.

“Businesspeople, when they see these things, they run away,” said Othman, the independent lawmaker.Businesses not permitted inside the zone can set up just outside it, Moussawi said. And Iraqi citizens don’t see the government center as isolated, he said. They see it as no longer occupied.

“Now,” Moussawi said, “they feel it is for them.”

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Feds discriminate against veterans
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