Thursday, June 5, 2014

Accomplishments of the National Youth Administration (part 9 of 10): Helping Wounded Soldiers

(A WPA poster promoting support for America's soldiers. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

In the early years of World War II, injured soldiers returning home could find work & training opportunities in the NYA. According to the Final Report of the National Youth Administration the soldiers "seemed satisfied with their immediate acceptance into a working group and welcomed the work training which would prepare them occupationally in keeping with their disabilities" (p. 130).

This particular program did not last long, as the NYA was terminated less than two years after America's declarations of war. The NYA, along with other New Deal work & construction programs, became less essential as workers were increasingly employed in military and defense-related industries. Still, we see again how New Deal policy-makers pointed us towards a more ethical way to treat our soldiers & veterans (as another example, World War I veterans were eligible to serve in the Civilian Conservation Corps, even though they exceeded the program's age limit).

Compare this New Deal treatment of our soldiers & veterans, to the recent treatment they have received from Congressional Republicans. For example, Republicans blocked legislation that would have upgraded VA medical facilities, they blocked legislation that would have created a public jobs program for unemployed veterans, and they proposed legislation to end housing assistance for homeless veterans. Unfortunately, far from being dissatisfied with these legislative actions, millions of Americans stand ready to vote in even more Republican lawmakers to our Congress. Is it any wonder that the suicide rate for our young veterans has soared? They need a New Deal, not the callous treatment they have been receiving from both conservative lawmakers and Corporate America (see, e.g., "Debt Collectors Targeting Members Of The Armed Services" and "Bank Of America Will Pay $20 Million For Illegal Foreclosures On Active-Duty Soldiers"). 

***For a fascinating explanation on why the treatment of our soldiers & veterans is so often deficient, see "Here's the Simple Reason Congress Hasn't Fixed the VA" (hint: because it won't line their pockets with campaign cash). And for an interesting article about a veterans' group calling out Republicans for their anti-veteran legislative actions, see "Veterans Group Targets Mitch McConnell, Richard Burr In New Ad Campaign."  

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