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Combat Vet's Unemployment Rate Skyrockets

Agence France-Presse | November 14, 2005

WASHINGTON - The return to civilian life for U.S. soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan is full of pitfalls, with an unemployment rate three times the national average. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that for the first three quarters of 2005, nearly 15 percent of veterans aged 20-24 are jobless -- three times the national average.

According to the web site VeteransToday, published by veterans for veterans, the high unemployment rate is "partly because most service members seriously injured in Iraq and Afghanistan are in the early stages of their military careers and possess limited transferable job skills or very little civilian work experience".

The government is also worried about the number of veterans without a permanent address. "The tragedy of homelessness among veterans persists, even when the economy is robust and unemployment is low," the California Department of Veterans Affairs said. Boy, is this information out of date!!

"Homeless veterans require remedial education, job-search and counseling assistance, medical services and transitional housing in order to re-enter the labor market," the agency said in a statement. Some 200,000 persons leave active military service each year. The government wants to convince U.S. employers to hire them.

To tackle the problem, the U.S. government launched a series of initiatives to come to their aid. The U.S. Veterans Administration created in October a project titled, "Fulfilling the Commitment -- Coming Home to Work" a public-private effort so they "will have employment opportunities when they return home from the war on terrorism," the Veterans Administration said in a statement.

"The young men and women who protect our way of life need to know that they will have the opportunity to work and to take care of their families once they are discharged from military service," said James Nicholson, secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The Department of Labor announced Thursday a six-month public relations campaign aimed at veterans returning to work in civilian life.

The Veterans Administration also plans a web page, REALifelines, especially for veterans wounded in combat.

Job fairs for veterans are also being organized. One of them, earlier this month, was attended by thousands of vets. One of the organizations at the Veterans Job Fair and Career Expo in New York, the National Hire Veterans Committee, encourages employers to recruit veterans on its web site.

"Your organization depends on reliable, resilient human capital. Veterans of America's armed forces have the skills, training and character to meet your toughest challenges for today and tomorrow. That's why the President's National Hire Veterans Committee wants you to know that hiring veterans is not just goodwill. It's good business."

Copyright 2005 Agence France-Presse.

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