Military Connection: Jon Stewart Training Vets to Work in the “Biz”

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By Debbie Gregory.

Jon Stewart is running a five-week industry training session for Army Veterans who want to get into the television business.While the pop-culture comic is a constant critic against the Iraq war, he is unwavering in his commitment to help Iraq Veterans.

Stewart is winding down his hosting duties on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Accused by some of misinforming its core audience of young adults about international news, The Daily Show doesn’t hide the fact that it’s not a news program, and only uses newsworthy stories as a jumping-off point to satire.

Stewart and The Daily Show, which has been on the air since 1996, have been working on this training program for three years, albeit under the radar.

Nathan Witmer was one of the Veterans who joined Stewart’s boot camp. The former leader of an Army scout platoon during the 2008 troop surge in Iraq went on to work at Fox News. He was then hired by The Daily Show as an associate field segment producer.

“We hear ‘Thank you for your service’ all the time, but here was concrete action, people working to really make a difference. And it changed lives. I’m proof of that,” said Witmer.

At the same time that Stewart has been serving up pointed satire against the war in Iraq, he’s been a supporter of Veterans, making hospital visits and doing a stand-up tour of bases in Afghanistan.

Now he’s trying to help them get into an industry traditionally hard to break into. Stewart is also encouraging others in the industry to follow his lead, encouraging others to “franchise” his idea.

“Please steal our idea,” Stewart said. “It isn’t charity. To be good in this business you have to bring in different voices from different places, and we have this wealth of experience that just wasn’t being tapped.”

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Military Connection: Jon Stewart Training Vets to Work in the “Biz”: by Debbie Gregory