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Voters in America: Vets Wanted? - Educator and Parent Guide

updated 6:06 PM EDT, Thu May 10, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • This Educator and Parent Guide is provided for teachers and parents to use as a catalyst for discussion and learning if they choose to watch this program with their students.
  • "Voters in America: Vets Wanted?" airs on CNN on Sunday, May 13 at 8 p.m. ET and PT, and Saturday, May 19 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and PT.
  • "Voters in America: Vets Wanted?" looks at the unique burdens for families of men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it follows the reintegration of members of the Georgia National Guard's 877th Engineer Company into civilian life.

Educators and Parents: This Educator and Parent Guide is provided for teachers and parents to use as a catalyst for discussion and learning if they choose to watch this program with their students. CNN provides Educator and Parent Guides for all of its "In America" programming.

(CNN) -- Teachers and Parents: Watch with your students or record "Voters in America: Vets Wanted?" when it airs on CNN on Sunday, May 13 at 8 p.m. ET and PT, or Saturday, May 19 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and PT. By recording the documentary, you agree that you will use the documentary for educational viewing purposes for a one-year period only. No other rights of any kind or nature whatsoever are granted, including, without limitation, any rights to sell, publish, distribute, post online or distribute in any other medium or forum, or use for any commercial or promotional purpose.

Documentary Description: Multiple deployments interrupt lives and careers and can lead to health and financial challenges. Narrated by former U.S. Army infantryman and motivational speaker J.R. Martinez, "Voters in America: Vets Wanted?" looks at the unique burdens for families of men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it follows the reintegration of members of the Georgia National Guard's 877th Engineer Company into civilian life. Deployed to Afghanistan in December 2010, half of these veterans faced unemployment when they returned to the U.S. The documentary also examines whether the bipartisan Veterans Jobs Bill passed in November 2011 is of any help as our nation's heroes make full transitions back to the lives they left to defend America, and it offers insights into how veterans' unemployment may impact their decisions as they head to the polls this November.

Recommended Grades: 10-12, college

Subject Areas: Social Studies (Civics, Economics, Government), Military Science

Before-Viewing Discussion Questions: Use these questions to promote discussion before viewing the program.

1. Do you know anyone who is a military veteran? If so, what did that person do after leaving the military?

2. What kinds of skills do you think that military veterans might have? What kinds of experiences do you think that a person has while serving in the military?

3. What qualities might make veterans good candidates for employment? Are there any reasons why you think an employer might not hire a veteran? Explain.

Post-Viewing Discussion Questions: Use these questions to facilitate discussion and critical thinking after watching "Voters in America: Vets Wanted?".

Where were the Georgia National Guard troops of the 877th Company most recently deployed? What was their mission while they were deployed? According to the video, what was on the minds of the troops while they were there?

According to the video, why do some National Guard troops volunteer to deploy? Why do you think that some call this situation "a backdoor draft"? How do some families of these troops prepare for times when they may not have paychecks?

In spite of National Guard troops' skills and qualifications, why, according to the video, do some employers avoid hiring them?

What is USERRA? How is it designed to protect the jobs of deployed soldiers?

What percentage of the 877th were coming home unemployed? Does this surprise you? Explain. How does the overall unemployment rate for National Guard soldiers compare to that of the civilian population? Why do you think this is so?

What action has Congress taken to promote the hiring of veterans? How do you think that the candidates for president should handle this issue?

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? According to the video, what questions do some employers have about hiring a veteran who has PTSD? What assumptions do some employers make regarding PTSD and all vets? What is your opinion of this assumption? Explain.

What do you think that the term "underemployment" means? Describe some of the jobs that the veterans in the video apply and interview for. How does the pay for these jobs compare to what they make when deployed in the National Guard? In spite of the low pay, why do you think that the vets pursue these jobs?

What evidence is there in the video that some people and organizations are working to help returning veterans find meaningful work? Which of these individuals and programs do you think will be most effective? Why?

What role do you think that the current economy is playing in the lack of jobs for returning veterans?

In your opinion, how might the lack of job opportunities after deployment affect an individual's decision to volunteer for the armed forces? What do you think could be some long-term effects of this trend on the armed forces?

If you were a candidate for political office, would you make this issue a priority? Why or why not?

Media Literacy Questions:

Where might you look for information about available jobs? How would you narrow down the field of jobs to those you are qualified for? What else would you do to conduct an efficient job search? What communication skills might make you stand out among the applicants for that job?

Learning Activity: An appeal to employers

Working in groups, have students interview an active or retired member of the military. Students will want to learn more about the training the veteran received and the skills and personal qualities that he or she developed while in the service.

Next, direct each group to go online and find three job listings that students think are a good fit for their interview subject. Have each group share with the class both the information they gleaned from the interview and the job postings they think match the skills and qualities their vet has.

Point out that, while the current economy is a tough job market, we learn in the video that some employers are especially reluctant to hire veterans because they might be deployed again. So how might a veteran convince a potential employer that he or she is the person for the job? Based on the information they have gathered, have each group role-play a job interview between an employer and qualified veteran addressing those concerns.

Conclude with a class discussion: What do students think would motivate more employers to hire veterans? What do students think could be done to increase the number of available jobs for veterans?

Curriculum Connections

Social Studies

National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: The Themes of Social Studies

5. INDIVIDUALS, GROUPS, AND INSTITUTIONS

Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of interactions among individuals, groups, and institutions.

7. PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION, AND CONSUMPTION

Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of how people organize for the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.

The National Curriculum Standards for the Social Studies are produced by the National Council for the Social Studies.

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