By Ocean MacAdams
Approximately 1.7 million soldiers and sailors have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a recent MTV poll, nearly six in ten (58 percent) 18-24-year-olds stated that they personally know someone who has served in Iraq.
MTV News believes that how these young veterans are re-integrated into society — how they cope with their wartime experiences and how they are treated by America — will be one of the stories of this generation. Because of that, MTV is dedicating its Choose Or Lose campaign this year to highlighting the issues of young veterans. We've already introduced you to a number of veterans (head here and here) and we even brought a group of young vets to meet Senators Obama and Clinton.
On Monday, we're going to do something new. Kanye West has been interested in the issue as well, and he's decided to team up with MTV for a special called "Choose or Lose & Kanye West Present: Homecoming." During his recent Glow in the Dark Tour, Kanye met up with three young veterans — one in Oklahoma City; one in Austin, Texas; and one in Charlotte, North Carolina. Each veteran had their own unique story, but all had two things in common: They served in Iraq and were now home and struggling. Whether it was dealing with family debt incurred while they were away or an inability to work while being treated for post traumatic stress disorder, these young vets were in danger of slipping through the cracks.
In each city, Kanye met with them and heard their stories. He brought them to his show and made sure they knew how thankful we all are for their service. More importantly, however, we tried to help. Whether it was money to pay off debt, help with finding a job or help with school bills, each vet was surprised by a gift from MTV and the Dr. Donda West Foundation, named in honor of Kanye's late mother.
It’s a pretty special show — hey, even Bill O'Reilly said nice things about it — and we hope you enjoy it. It airs Monday, July 28 at 10 p.m. on MTV. Here’s a segment from the show.