Know Before You Go

The handout we are using this fall is entitled “Know Before You Go”. Since the format of the handout is simply a number of information bubbles, we’ll include a link to the PDF version of the leaflet and will then include some extended information and sources for those assertions below. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

The leaflet itself can be downloaded from here.

A number of claims were made in the leaflet we are distributing this year. These claims are expanded upon below, with the sources listed:

Did you know… young veterans returning from service often have a harder time finding employment than their non-veteran peers. The unemployment rate for vets aged 18-24 is over 20%.

Numerous sources have reported this statistic recently. Here is recent article about the topic from the usually conservative Washington Times:

“The nation’s youngest veterans, ages 20-24, are experiencing one of the highest unemployment rates at 21 percent,” the research says. It notes the rate is 7 percentage points higher than that of non-veteran peers of the same age…”

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) organization has also reported extensively on this problem over the years. A recent example is listed below.


Sad but true… vets are subject to increased risks of alcoholism, drug addiction, and severe depression. An estimated 20% of recent combat veterans suffer from PTSD, believed to be a significant factor in the high suicide rates seen in this population.

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV), veterans are much more likely to end up homeless than non-veterans. While there are a number of contributing factors, the fact that vets are subject to increased risks of alcoholism, drug addiction, and severe depression play a major role. Furthermore, it is estimated that over 20% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a significant factor in the record high suicide rates currently being seen in this veteran population.

Moral Injury is also a very real hazard for service members. The following definition for Moral Injury was taken from here:

Combat and operational experiences can inevitably transgress deeply held beliefs that undergird a service member’s humanity. Transgressions can arise from individual acts of commission or omission, the behavior of others, or by bearing witness to intense human suffering or the grotesque aftermath of battle. An act of serious transgression that leads to serious inner conflict because the experience is at odds with core ethical and moral beliefs is called moral injury.”

There have been a number of articles about Moral Injury that were recently published (google it). More information can be found here.

This soldier’s last letter made headlines recently. There are hints of moral injury in his tragic description of what he was suffering:


“While both male and female soldiers are at increased risk for sexual assault from their peers, the reported assault rate for female soldiers is 1 in 3.”

Yes, that is one in every three female service members. The problem is endemic.


Defending itself against a class action lawsuit resulting from rape within the ranks, the DOD has argued in court that rape is essentially an occupational hazard of military service.

CIOCA V. RUMSFELD was a class action lawsuit filed in 2011 by over two dozen current and former service members (25 women and 3 men) who were sexually assaulted while serving, alleging that the the military failed to investigate, prosecute, or provide adequate justice after the alleged attacks.

The defense argued that the assaults were ‘incident to service,’ in other words, a military matter that civilian courts did not have standing to address, and thus the lawsuit should be dismissed. The judge in that case agreed.

Protect Our Defenders commented on the original ruling here ( pointing out that “when Judge O’Grady dismissed the lawsuit saying that rape and sexual assault in the military are simply ‘incident to service,’ he put his finger on the heart of the problem. According to the military’s argument, which Judge O’Grady accepted, rape and sexual assault is just an occupational hazard for service members.”

The dismissal of the case was appealed, but the appellate court agreed with the lower court. There currently can be no recourse through civilian courts. The ruling on the appeal can be found here:

As rape is considered an internal military matter, the response it is left up to the discretion of the commanding officer. Way too often, this has resulted in non-action or even reprisal actions against the accuser. While the military has admitted that sexual assault is a major crisis, and that they are making attempts to address the issue, time will tell if these proposed reforms are able to make a dent into the culture of rape that exists within the ranks. In any case, justice for the estimated 19,000 annual victims remain at the whim of the military itself. There is currently no other recourse that the victim can take.

“Notwithstanding the troubling nature of the sexual assault allegations alleged in Plaintiffs’ Complaint… the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that the relief Plaintiffs seek … is unavailable in these circumstances.” ~ U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady

The movie The Invisible War addresses this sad and difficult topic. If you haven’t seen the movie, take a look at the trailer.


Don’t think these hazards would apply to you since the job you are signing up for isn’t a combat position?  Don’t count on it – read the contract! Section 9b states that the DOD can change your job assignment at any time for any reason. The contract also states that you are on the hook for eight years during which time you can be forced back into active duty. Know what you are signing up for!

You can check out the Enlistment contract here:  Pay special attention to sections 8, 9b, and 10.

More specifically, section 9b states that “…laws and regulations that govern military personnel may change without notice to me. Such changes may affect my status, pay, allowances, benefits, and responsibilities as a member of the Armed Forces REGARDLESS of the provisions of this enlistment/reenlistment document.”


Leaflets from past years can be found here.