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Top Military Officer Challenges Crowd To Help Veterans

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jason Allen
Jason came to North Texas after working as a reporter for four y...
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Big business, academia and industry, will have to assist the military in caring for a new generation of veterans, the nation’s top ranked military officer told a crowd in Addison. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said how we treat those leaving, will signal the next generation of those who may serve.

Dempsey spoke with CBS11 last week after an appearance in front of the Dallas-based America’s Future group, and the Greater Dallas Military Foundation. The groups were focusing on the military in transition, something Dempsey is addressing after a decade of war and deep cuts to the current force.

While recognizing he was in front of a crowd he said showed genuineness toward the military, Dempsey also acknowledged the military must do more to prepare veterans for life as a civilian.

“One of the reasons it may feel a little bit like a, simply a wave goodbye, is that we start the process to late,” he said. “Someone declares they intend to leave or if shrinking we tell them they have to leave, and then 3 or 4 or 5 months later they’re gone. That’s too late.”

Mark Leach, a veteran who was in the crowd, said it was something the military was still learning to do. He sent 50 applications to companies when he left the service he said, and received only one response. The call was from Chase bank, which had a military bank manager training program.

“You might now know about this field but you have all the other skill sets to learn,” he said. Chase and other companies were receiving awards for their work hiring veterans.

Dempsey said getting soldiers to realize their strengths could be handled to some extent through training. Leadership though is also key.

“Where we’ve made the most progress is where we’ve had the best leadership.,” he said. “And where we’ve probably not made as much progress is probably where we’ve had some shortcomings in leadership.”

The military, Dempsey said, is not the immovable force some make it out to be. With flexibility and certainty, especially budgetary, he said the force embraces change.

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