America's Veterans: Honorably Discharged and Unemployed

Veterans returning home from war face many obstacles when adjusting to civilian life. One of those obstacles is finding a job.

The American public has an unemployment rate hovering around 9 percent. Veterans returning from war, however, have a higher unemployment rate of 13.3 percent recorded for this past June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With the troop drawdown in Afghanistan and Iraq, approximately 1 million vets will soon be returning home and looking to reenter the workforce. Right now, there just aren’t enough jobs to accommodate all of them.

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) says that one suspected reason that vets are not getting hired, according Press TV, is that employers are aware of the high levels of post traumatic stress disorder reported in veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore, they may be reluctant to hire veterans who have finished recent tours in combat.

Employers may also be hesitant to hire a veteran who remains in the reserves because he or she may be called for another tour, according to Press TV. A deployment would require employers to hold a needed position open while the service member is abroad.

On August 5th, President Obama announced his initiatives to decrease the unemployment rate among the veterans.

The White House has said that a $2400 tax credit would be given to businesses who hire unemployed veterans; a $4800 tax credit would be given for hiring a veteran who has been out of work for at least six months; and a $9,600 tax credit for hiring a veteran with a service-connected disability who has been out of work for six months.

Obama has also ordered the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments to form a new task force to help service members find jobs. Among these plans is the idea for a program that helps veterans made a smoother transition to civilian life. This would include classes and workshops to ensure the veteran has the needed skill set and knowledge to enter the civilian work force.

However, one veteran expresses doubt about how the unemployment rate is being handled. Rajiv Sirinivasan wrote in Time Magazine about his concern:

“If there is one thing I've learned about the human condition from my tour in Kandahar, it's that when you pitch something like a charity, it gets treated like a charity. If you pitch it like an investment, it gets treated like an investment. If we really want to initiate action on veteran unemployment, we need to change the discussion from a charitable approach to a utilitarian one.”

“This isn't an issue of honoring veterans or thanking us for our service," Sirinivasan continued. "This is about the mass productivity and long-term national security of the country. The challenge is convincing business leaders of the added benefits of employing veterans, and politicians of the potential security consequences if it doesn't happen.”

Regardless of approach, most agree that veterans returning from war deserve better treatment than what a lone unemployment line offers.

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