Jon Stewart is using his expertise and clout to help military veterans get work in the entertainment industry. The Daily Show host's five-week training program helps ex-members of the military get a taste of entertainment careers such as writing, producing, editing, booking, and various other positions in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
Stewart and his team have actually been developing the training project for three years, but waited to go public until the comedian neared the end of his Daily Show run.
Now Stewart is front and center promoting the program, and hopes to inspire other industry professionals to follow suit with similar projects. Stewart told The New York Times:
“This is ready to franchise. Please steal our idea. It isn’t charity."
The move may seem to be an odd one considering Stewart's vocal opposition to the involvement of the U.S. military in the Iraq war. But while Stewart opposed the war, he defended the men and women fighting it. While eviscerating the government military machine on The Daily Show, he was also doing what he could to support the troops taking the real risks. Stewart worked in troop advocacy, visited wounded vets at hospitals, and did a comedy tour of bases in Afghanistan in 2011.
During this time, Stewart realized the mindsets of the military and showbiz weren't necessarily incongruous.
"To be good in this business you have to bring in different voices from different places," he explained, "and we have this wealth of experience that just wasn’t being tapped.”
“There are well-worn channels into this industry that are closed off to veterans,” Stewart added. “You get into the television industry generally by going to certain colleges known for having good television programs, getting internships and getting to know people who work in the industry. A lot of veterans never had that opportunity because they were busy at war. This is a way to give them that chance.”
Statistically veterans have a good success rate at finding employment after their service, but most turn to expected careers in government or corporate industries with ties to the military.