Amazon is posing as a friend to veterans who need jobs when they return home from military service — while mistreating those veterans just as brutally as any other Amazon worker.

By Suzanne Gordon, Steve Early, and Jasper Craven, Jacobin

Corporate America loves to proclaim its love and support for our veterans. The persistent problem of veteran suicide has provided big firms with an opportunity to demonstrate their concern about the health and well-being of former military personnel, including those they employ. Unfortunately, at companies like Amazon, this performative patriotism does not involve improving working conditions or changing any management practices that might actually make them better employers, even while they pledge to hire more employees with military backgrounds.

Jeff Bezos wearing a suit at an event

A recent report by Brown University’s Costs of War project found that “four times as many men and women who have served in the U.S. military have died by suicide than were killed in post 9/11 wars.” Cost of War researchers estimate that the total suicide toll among veterans and service members during the past two decades is more than 30,000. According to a study by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), veterans are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide than nonveterans, while female veterans are 2.2 times more likely to die by suicide than civilian women.

When soldiers leave active duty, their employment status and job conditions — pay, benefits, and treatment by supervisors — can have a major impact on their emotional and financial stability. With this in mind, the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation joined forces with the Trump administration two years ago to promote a suicide reduction initiative called PREVENTS. Its objective was building “a public-private partnership to strengthen emotional well-being in the workplace.”

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