We wax eloquent endlessly about our veterans, but when it comes down to brass tacks, we don’t do as much as we should to help our brave veterans build a new life for themselves and re-integrate into society as a civilian. Jon Stewart, famed comedian and political voice, has been turning words to tangible action with his five week program which helps veterans break into the media and television industry.
He’s been running the program under the radar for the past three years, only announcing it publicly as his time at the Daily Show comes to an end. “This is ready to franchise. Please steal our idea…It isn’t charity. To be good in this business you have to bring in different voices from different places, and we have this wealth of experience that just wasn’t being tapped…You get into the television industry generally by going to certain colleges known for having good television programs, getting internships and getting to know people who work in the industry,” Stewart tells the New York Times. “A lot of veterans never had that opportunity because they were busy at war. This is a way to give them that chance.”
The program began when a corporate mentorship program asked Stewart to find a job for a single veteran, but Stewart wanted to do better than just drop his name. Behind the scenes at the Daily Show, his team crafted an intense five-week training course in the basics of the media industry. While veterans usually find jobs after their service, this program helps bridge an important divide between Hollywood and the military. “Sometimes people want to apologize for being in the military out here; it’s so misunderstood,” says Ms. Kraft, a former soldier who became a producer in Los Angeles. “It’s a creative industry, and they tend to see military people as a bunch of rule followers.”
Stewart has been a vocal critic of the Iraq War, the blunders of the Pentagon, and the war-hawk Republicans in Congress, but at the same time has been an avid defender of our veterans, slamming the Veterans Administration for their failures and championing the rights and wellbeing of our fighting men and women. He’s now taken it one step forward with his workshop program. As we remember our fallen soldiers this Memorial Day, we should also make sure that our veterans have every opportunity to fulfill their passions after risking it all to defend ours.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.