Returning veteran has few marketable skills

Editor’s Note: A commentary by Leo Webb, ”Returning veteran has few marketable skills,” prompted questions from listeners about Webb’s account of his service as an Army sniper in Iraq. A subsequent investigation found that the Army has no record of Webb. Webb also said he pitched for a Chicago Cubs minor-league team. Inquiries to the Cubs and to Minor League Baseball found no record of Webb. Marketplace has an obligation to provide accurate information. That was not met in this commentary. It has been retracted and the text and audio have been removed from the web site.    

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Another uncounted cost of the wars. Not only do we tie up a huge portion our our labor at a time when they would be learning the basis of what would become their future careers, but we get people that are effected the rest of their lives by their experiences in our wars of convenience. Many of these folks will become war casualties by their own hand in the years to come.

Before we get too concerned about what "*real* support" might exist for "veterans like Mr. Webb," let's make sure Mr. Webb actually exists.

The essay gives relatively few details allowing any checking, but there are a few, such as the guy's name, that he supposedly was a pitcher in the Chicago Cubs minor league system, reaching as high as AA ball before having arm problems, that he was a military sniper in Iraq, and that he was present during a fatal shooting back in the states just outside of a Rite-Aid store.... somewhere. Nothing resembling a city or state.

I suspect the folks at NPR got things seriously wrong, and may have been played. The report indicates that this is a guy who has very recently returned from service, which would mean that his minor league stats would almost certainly be available at baseball-reference.com, which does not list the guy. In fact it doesn't list anyone with the last name of Webb who would look even close. http://www.baseball-reference.com/pl/player_search.cgi?search=Webb

And if you google "Rite-Aid Leo Webb veteran" there are no hits that would match a news report about that. And it is no different if you change the search to "Rite-Aid Leonard Webb veteran." Replace the word "veteran" in the search to "shooting" and you still get nothing.

Forgive my skeptical nature, but the entire report sounds bogus to me.

It my be "truth-like." It may be that situations such as this do exist (but if they did, wouldn't it be best to find the real ones?), or it may not.... but THIS story, at least as presented here, does not seem to be accurate.

I have one son who recently came out of the Army. He's going to college on the GI Bill. I worry about him because he stuffs what is going on inside and drinks. My other son is in Afghanistan right now. He has not gained skills that would help him in private life either, he drinks too much and he's not college material. Leo Webb & my sons are the reason I would like to see a more proactive approach to job placement for Veterans. What I would like to see is a business that would contract with other businesses and ask what the skills are they would like in a prospective employee, test veterans to see what potential they have - are they more hands on, do they have good math or people skills, and then train them for that position specifically. This would help businesses fill positions that go empty because they can't fins someone with the skills needed and would help vets get the training they need to find a job and stability.

Support? as a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, I will state that the VFW is trying to help by advocating for returning vets and promoting recognition of the problems they have. The VFW is NOT all about old men smoking and telling war stories, and is opening up to the young men and women to help them. Those who have been there can help the younger ones find answers. There is another program called Wounded Warriors that does a lot, but I'm not certain if it is for those who are still enlisted or not. It hurts to hear stories like Leo's, but there are thousands out there who didn't get on the radio, and they all need our support.

After hearing this piece, I thought about those "Support the troops" bumper stickers I often see and the vocal "lip service" "support" people like to give to veterans. What *real* support (financial, physical and mental health, job training) is there for veterans like Mr. Webb?


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