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In Case You Missed It: President Bush on Veteran Employment and Transition

June 25, 2015 by The Bush Institute

In case you missed it, President Bush spoke on the importance of hiring veterans at a summit co-sponsored by the Bush Institute and the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring our Heroes program. President Bush highlighted the story of a veteran – Sergeant Kyle White.

“Across our country, businesses are recognizing that hiring veterans is not only the right thing to do; it is a smart thing to do.  Part of our job at the Bush Center is to call attention to those folks.  Many companies have started innovative programs, and some of them are here.  And by the way, we’re not only talking about vets; we’re talking about their spouses as well.  So I want to give a shout-out to 7-Eleven, Bank of America, Blackstone, GE, JC Penney, JP Morgan Chase, LaQuinta, Prudential, Uber, USAA, and Walmart.  There are a lot of other companies, no question.  These are some that have come to our attention with innovative programs that are more than just a program – they’re actually providing work that lasts, and we thank them for that.

Bank of America-Merrill Lynch is one company that understands hiring vets more than a moral imperative; it’s good for the bottom line.  I want to talk about Sergeant Kyle White.  He  who took advantage of the GI bill and graduated with a degree in finance from UNC-Charlotte.  He got hired by Merrill Lynch as a Product Specialist.  What he calls himself is a Product Sergeant.  Every day at the office, he brings to bear what he calls the “bag of skills” he learned in the military.

I met him in Dallas; he came by. You might have heard of him:  he’s a Medal of Honor winner.  He put his life on the line to save his buddies.”

President Bush also discussed the challenges Sergeant White spoke about with him when they  met, particularly as it pertains to another issue we’re focused on at the Bush Institute – post traumatic stress. He continued:

“Kyle talked to me about the challenges he faced transitioning.  He had what was then diagnosed as PTSD.

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress can be tough on veterans and their families.  Another problem is there’s a stigma attached to PTS.  Partly because it is mislabeled a “disorder,” and partly because many people aren’t aware of the treatment options, some veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress are reluctant to seek help.  As a result of this misunderstanding, post-traumatic stress is another barrier to employment.  It’s something that we’re trying to help employers understand, so that we can make the results on the job front even better.   

Most doctors will tell you post-traumatic stress is not a disorder.  It’s an injury that can result from the experience of battle.  It’s treatable.  Post-traumatic stress, or PTS, is an injury that can result from the experience of battle.  And like other wounds of war, PTS is treatable. The military and medical communities have made progress in developing effective ways to deal with PTS.

So therefore at the Bush Center, we’re starting an effort to Drop the “D” and help people better understand that we’re talking about an injury.  We want to make sure that the vets receiving treatment are not viewed as damaged goods.  They are not mentally shattered.  They are people who got hurt defending our country.  Employers would not hesitate to hire a talented employee getting treated for high blood pressure or recovering from a broken arm.  And they should not hesitate to hire a vet getting treated for PTS.”

Learn more about what the Bush Institute is doing to support veterans and their families through transition.