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Chinese American veteran shares US army experiences in Beijing

 

Eric Jon Photo: Billie Feng

A Chinese-American veteran from the US army who now works as a commercial officer for the US Embassy in China shared his past experiences in the US army at the Beijing American Center (BAC) on the evening of November 12.  

Beijing-born Eric Jon joined the US army when he was 26. “Some of my Chinese friends asked me why I decided to join the army when my cousins and Chinese classmates were planning to go to school to study for doctorate degree. In think this is part of our sense of service. Americans talk about what you can take and what you give back,” he said.

Jon worked in finance and his job involved transporting, counting and handing out cash. He served in Germany for two years; then he was transferred to Iraq and served there for 11 and a half months, where he lost three close friends and himself narrowly escaped death on many occasions.

After that, because he got one of his ears blown up in Iraq, Jon was retired from the army and sent back to a hospital in Washington D.C. The hospital ran a program on counseling soldiers how to find jobs. “It was like mandatory and every single day I had nothing to do but go attend this program. I was not used to it when I first took off my uniform and went to some office with civilians working around,” he said.

Jon found his current job through a program called Vocational Rehab, which helped injured or mentally stressed out soldiers get back to work. “I was born in China and had been traveling back and forth between the two countries, so I needed to go back to China. They offered me the job because I knew a lot about the US military system, which was quite similar to the US government system,” he said.

When asked whether he received any privileges in society after retirement because of his service for the US army, Jon said, “We did have some privileges, but social status is not an important thing to most veterans as long as we can find a decent job, afford to go to school and live a comfortable life. Every time I talk about my military life, I feel good that I get respect. That’s what I’m proud of,” he said.


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