I just do not get it. I keep seeing and hearing stories about veterans who are not being hired. One woman spent a year in Iraq guarding high profile prisoners. She joined the National Guard at the age of 36 years old. Soon, she went on her first tour in Iraq. She was laid off from her bank job and could not find a new job. So, she volunteered for a second tour in Iraq. Norma Mojica has demonstrated the sort of character and motivation that would satisfy any employer. Yet, she remains unemployed today. See CBS News report. Unlike some veterans, she had a civilian job and has civilian job skills. The unemployment rate for veterans has consistently remained several points higher than for non-veterans.
I have to wonder if the average civilian employer realizes the high level of responsibility the Norma Mojicas have as Non-Commissioned Officers in a war zone. They are responsible for the lives of their soldiers and the well-being of countless soldiers with whom they work.
I had a soldier who worked for me when I was in Iraq. Sunny Tang processed requests for payment on reconstruction projects. He paid on tens of millions of dollars in a 12 month time period. He took care of the soldiers coming in from the distant FOB’s (Forward Operating Base) knowing they had to get back on the road before nightfall. Because of his abilities with computers, he became the de facto IT person for some 30 computers. He did all this in a war zone with the daily pressure of lives always on the line in every decision and every payment request.
I knew an officer who went home, knowing that his wife wanted a divorce. He happened to see his wife’s new boyfriend reading a bed-time story to the officer’s children. He got into an altercation or two – all during his two week break. That officer came back to the war with a lot on his mind. Yet, he had to perform. If he did not, lives or limbs could be lost.
Sgt. Tang should not have even been with us. He thought he had processed out. His term of enlistment ended in 2002. Unknown to Sgt. Tang, his unit failed to process him out as they should have. He was carried, apparently, as "excused absent" for 12 months. When the Iraq war kicked off in 2003, his new commander called Tang at home and told him to report asap or be arrested. Sgt. Tang reported as he was at the time, barefoot and shirtless. He was on active duty from that day forward.
One would expect Sgt. Tang to be bitter. But, if he was, he never showed it. He was a rock for 10 months. In his 11th month, his girlfriend was seeing someone else. He learned about it and hit a bad patch. But, within a week, he has back at work and was a rock of a soldier, once again.
These are the sort of personnel issues every NCO deals with, everyday. The NCO’s are on the front line in dealing with complicated personnel issues. Is there any doubt that Sgt. Tang would appear at work everyday? Is there any doubt that he would come to work even when he felt bad? Is there any doubt that Sgt. Tang would solve problems at work, not just present problems to his civilian boss? I am simply amazed that some employer has not snapped up a civilian and NCO like Norma Mojica.