February 21, 2012

Stepping Up On Vet Jobs

Given the news of the last two-and-a-half years, it seems wise to exhibit caution about the economy, even as a recovery is bestirring. We are told that it's "halftime in America", and that the second act has hardly begun.

That may well be the case for large sections of America's workforce. It is certainly not the case for that portion which has gone above and beyond, and given a full measure of devotion to the country they love.

I speak, of course, of America's veterans. As recently as the end of 2011, the unemployment rate for all veterans stood at 9.9%; and while the latest round of job statistics showed that all veteran unemployment has fallen below the national unemployment rate, the unemployment rate among the youngest veterans, ages 18-24, is upwards of 30 percent. 

Thirty percent. That's not just abysmal, it's utterly catastrophic. 

Many of those youngest veterans simply have never been a part of the workforce. Out of High School, they joined the military, so their resumes in the private work sector give them particular trouble finding a job. For many others, they still serve in the National Guard and Reserves, meaning many employers worry that they'll be deployed, and if they hire these young veterans, they might lose them sometime soon. Of course, if a company goes under while a vet is deployed, there is no job left to protect. Same for those veterans who only have done contract or short-term work. It's time for industry to step up and place their bets on America's heroes, and show the rest of the private sector that it's never wrong to bet on a veteran.

That is why the Vet Voice Foundation, which I chair, is proud to endorse a new initiative to employ America's veterans: America Wants You. This is a unique private sector initiative that works with corporate America to employ those men and women who have served in our Country's military. Together, industry and America's veterans can forge a bridge to an America fair for all.

CareerBuilder is building a dedicated job site on AmericaWantsYou.net and corporations including Southwestern Energy and Careerbuilder have pledged their support. But with over 800,000 veterans out of work, it is imperative that all companies step up and do everything within their power to tap into a workforce whose dedication and commitment is beyond reproach.

As a veteran of multiple tours in Iraq, people come up to me and thank me for my service. Many say it's time for a parade. That is all to the good. But, a better way to show the thanks of a grateful nation - more than any parade or handshake or embrace - is to make certain that all veterans have a fair shot at building an America worthy of our service.

That can only happen when veterans have an opportunity to serve America not just in uniform, but out of it.

So join me - and let's make the promise of America Wants You a reality. 

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