Military veterans working for NBCUniversal recently sat down with NBCU Academy to reflect on their service and post-military careers. They also chatted about how journalists can avoid stereotypes and insensitivities when covering those who have served. Watch the video above and read their remarks below, edited for length and clarity, to hear tips for reporting on veterans with nuance.
Tips on reporting veterans’ stories
Gari Harvey, Army veteran, NBCU marketing coordinator: If you want to know if a veteran served in a war environment, ease into the question. Start with “Where have you served?” or “Where are some of the places you’ve been stationed?” to open up a dialogue.
Never make assumptions. Veterans aren’t a monolithic group where everyone thinks the same way. And don’t ask if the veteran ever killed someone.
Vince Tsang, Air Force reserve, NBCU ad sales DEI manager: Tell a story that is personal to the individual who’s serving, and not only stories that are war-driven but about the people behind the front lines.
Don’t assume everybody’s from the Army and had the same training. We had one common goal, but our training was vastly different. Our stories will be different.
Patrick Martin, Army veteran, NBC News health and med unit producer: Don’t just talk to one veteran. Talk to multiple veterans and groups.
Diverse stories from the veteran population don’t always have to be downtrodden ones. Often when veterans are covered, they are pitied and almost coddled when it comes to what they have gone through, when that’s not always the reality.
Christopher Drew, Air Force veteran, NBCU production engineer: Veterans do not solely identify with their military service. They were proud to serve and are continuing their journey in life. The veteran community could use a little more coverage on transitioning from a military role to civilian life.
How veterans transition into the workforce
Tsang: Veterans take initiative, they have leadership skills and an ability to work as a team. If you tell a veteran if they are doing something wrong, they can fix it quickly.
Drew: Veterans are generally on time and detail-oriented.
Mike McCue, Marine Corps veteran, NBCU digital sales planner: We’re used to working under changing conditions, keeping focus on tasks and being adaptable.
Martin: We have organizational skills. Tell a veteran what their job is, and they’re going to get it done.
Harvey: No matter what your job was in the military, when you leave, you can follow your passion. You can do something that you truly want to do.