American Conversation Essentials: Juliette Kayyem on the Challenge of a Million Vets

June 8, 2012

CAMBRIDGE MA – The challenge of reintegrating Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans back home is the focus of the latest American Conversation Essentials video with Juliette Kayyem, lecturer in public policy and former assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

“We have a million vets, men and women who have fought in these wars over the past ten years," Kayyem states. "We have to think about our obligations to these people who are willing to protect us, but we seem to forget that we have this many returning service members, and we do so at our own peril." 

Kayyem says returning veterans suffer from higher unemployment rates, mental disorders and physical disabilities than the general public and require greater levels of support. "The challenge is not simply services to provide them...but also how to reintegrate them to give them the skills that they need to reenter American society," she says. 

American Conversation Essentials is a series of compelling videos that puts today’s most important issues – the Middle East, the economy, health care and more – into perspective during this election year. HKS faculty members share their expertise and offer insights to provide Americans with the tools to better understand the world around them, become more engaged citizens and ultimately build a better society. American Conversation Essentials is a collaboration between HKS and the 92nd Street Y (92Y) in New York City, and is a component of 92Y’s Campaign for the American Conversation.

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Photograph of Juliette Kayyem

Juliette Kayyem, lecturer in public policy

“We have a million vets, men and women who have fought in these wars over the past ten years," Kayyem states. "We have to think about our obligations to these people who are willing to protect us, but we seem to forget that we have this many returning service members, and we do so at our own peril."