Everyone says they want to hire veterans. Big U.S. firms have pledged through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to hire more than 200,000 over the next five years. Congress has delivered tax credits worth as much as $5,600 to any business willing to hire an unemployed veteran — $9,600 if the vet is disabled…

Here in Oklahoma, Bolton knows better. When hiring managers flip through his binder of résumés, they aren’t thinking about whether the nation has an obligation to its combat veterans. They are weighing whether they can really afford to take on one more employee in this uncertain economy, whether it makes sense to wait just a few more months.

The questions that consume Bolton, meanwhile, are specific to a population of ex-soldiers struggling with a particular set of postwar problems. How can he help a solid Guard captain with a forgettable résuméshine? How does he find a job for a 35-year-old soldier who can’t remember to pay her electricity bill? What can he do to help a soldier hold on to his job when he says he came home from combat “hating humanity”?

Each of these questions is, in its own way, a legacy of America’s wars.