Jon Stewart on his quiet efforts to get veterans TV jobs: ‘It isn’t charity’

26 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Jon Stewart Runs a Program to Employ War Veterans in TV.

For the past three years, Daily Show host Jon Stewart has been quietly running five-week-long boot camps aimed at getting interested war veterans into the television industry. Like many troops leaving the military, he was steered instead toward jobs in government agencies that offered preferential hiring or with big corporations that recruited veterans, and he assumed his hope of working in show business would remain only that. On Monday, The New York Times made the program public, publishing an interview in which Stewart explained why he hasn’t been touting the program — he didn’t want Daily Show fans as much as vets looking to break into Hollywood, for example — and why he is talking about it now: He’s retiring, and he wants other TV shows to create similar programs. “This is ready to franchise.

Where most people would spend their time reading, watching TV or browsing the internet, Jon devotes his time to helping people who fought in a war he strictly and publicly opposed. As one war veteran learnt when he got a job in a boot camp which brought young adults into television, the whole initiative was funded and headed by none other than Jon Stewart. While Stewart hasn’t publicized the program during its tenure, his impending departure from the show has caused him to come out in the open about it and urge other programs to help veterans in similar ways. To his surprise, it was run by one of the Iraq war’s fiercest critics, Jon Stewart, the longtime host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. “It was actually inspirational,” said Witmer, who went on to work at Fox News and then found a job as a Daily Show associate field segment producer. “We hear ‘Thank you for your service’ all the time, but here was concrete action, people working to really make a difference. 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.” Stewart said that veterans face a special challenge when it comes to getting jobs in the TV business: There are well-worn channels into this industry that are closed off to veterans….

The program is a five-week boot camp that can be extremely useful to veterans, who are competing against twenty-somethings who have had years of low-level jobs and internships while soliders were overseas fighting for them. “It’s a creative industry, and they tend to see military people as a bunch of rule followers,” Karen Kraft, a board member of the Veterans in Film and Television group, said. I’m proof of that.” Nathan led an Army scout platoon in Iraq in 2008, then found himself forced into a sales job he didn’t enjoy when he returned to the US in 2010. This is a way to give them that chance. [Stewart] Stewart has hired at least two vets for the show, and says they are “way less whiny” than most of his employees. The comedian has often criticized the United States’ military actions, but has also been an outspoken supporter of veterans, calling out the way the government treats them when they return home.

For years the host built his audience by playing straight man to the often absurd truths of the global “war on terror,” serving up scathing satire on U.S. involvement in the Middle East in his longstanding segments “Mess o’Potamia” and “Crisis in Israfghyianonanaq.” At the same time, though, he has been an advocate for troops, visiting the wounded at hospitals, visiting Arlington National Cemetery and in 2011 doing a comedy tour of bases in Afghanistan. “I knew I had very strong opinions about what we were doing over there, and I wanted to visit the individuals who were part of the effort to gain a perspective on it,” Stewart said. “Most of all, I realized it was unbelievably hot, nothing but sand. The Times notes that many Iraqi commanders, and some American officers, think the U.S. is using too much judiciousness with its air power. “The international alliance is not providing enough support compared with ISIS’ capabilities on the ground in Anbar,” Maj. Muhammed al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi officer in the Anbar Province, which contains Ramadi, told the Times. “We lost large territories in Anbar because of the inefficiency of the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.” On Tuesday, Iraqi state television announced that Iraqi security forces, Shiite militias, and Sunni paramilitary forces have launched an expected offensive to dislodge Islamic State from western Anbar province. But with Jon Stewart leading the way in this sudden reversal of traditional job typing, many of those returning home to a hero’s welcome will be joining TV careers. And while Jon Stewart may hardly have been the one person thought to have started this trailblazing path, it seems he had a change of heart mid-career and began the whole shebang which has immensely benefited veterans.

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