From War to Wall Street: A Veteran's Perspective

Mario Bonifacio enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Counterintelligence Agent before being commissioned as a Field Artillery officer, deploying to Iraq from 2005-2006. He is currently studying International Finance and Economic Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He is with NYSE Media Relations for the summer and will be writing several blogs from NYSE Veterans' perspective

I couldn't help but try to put myself in Marshall Carter's shoes when I read his interview with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

After all, this nation's veterans share a bond forged through 200 years of service and sacrifice, forming an unbroken line of fighting men and women that connects the troops who patrolled the rice paddies of Da Nang with the Multi-National units that watched over Iraq’s Salahuddin province.

Recently separated from the military myself, I was particularly interested in Mr. Carter's transition back into civilian employment. By the time he had returned from Vietnam, popular sentiment had turned against the war and embarrassingly, the public blamed servicemen for the war. This stands in stark contrast to the climate I have faced since getting out. Popular opinion has certainly waxed and waned over the last eleven years of combat, but today's American public has done a much better job at separating their opinions about the war from their treatment of the Veterans returning from it. As a result, I have come across no shortage of people who would like to help in some way.

However, what has gotten even worse since Mr. Carter’s fighting days has been the public’s detachment from war. Far fewer Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan than served in Vietnam, even as the population has ballooned. Thus, despite all the good intentions, employers aren’t quite sure what to make of us.

That’s why efforts like the New York Stock Exchange’s Veteran Associate Program are so important. Companies like NYSE Euronext not only appreciate our service, but understand the value of our skills and experiences, and gives us the opportunity to use them in completing substantive, meaningful projects. Not only that, to close the gap in industry specific knowledge, the Exchange’s Veteran Associate Program includes nearly 50 hours of comprehensive education taught by executives and industry experts.

The sentiment of the American public toward its returning troops has changed for the better in the decades since the Vietnam War. Companies like NYSE Euronext are making it easier for these Veterans to ease their way back into civilian life.