If our veterans fight for us overseas, why do they have to still fight for themselves at home? I ask myself this every time I hear about an unemployed veteran, and so should our respective government officials.
The bright side is that the jobless rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans has fallen to 7.6%, below the overall US unemployment rate of 8%, and roughly 5% points below the 12.5% rate for veterans a year ago.
But still, a 7.6% unemployment rate is an absolute FAILURE by our government to take care of our troops back home.
GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES TO HELP OUR TROOPS
Provides a credit of up to $2,400 to employers who hire a vet who’s been unemployed for at least four weeks. The program has been expanded to give $5,600 to employers who hire veterans who’ve been jobless for over six months.
The Wounded Warrior tax credit is worth up to $4,800 for companies who hire disabled veterans. This credit was doubled in November for the long-term unemployed, giving a tax break of up to $9,600 to companies that hire disabled veterans who’ve been unemployed longer than six months.
In addition to these two programs, President Obama has proposed the Veterans Job Corps initiative, which calls for $1 billion to hire 20,000 vets over the next five years to work in jobs related to environmental protection and maintaining roads and levees.
A program announced earlier this year by the Veterans Affairs and Labor departments lets veterans ages 35 to 60 receive 12 months worth of benefits to cover education.
ARE THESE GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES ENOUGH?
The natural rate of unemployed is estimated by economists to be roughly 3%. In other words, even in the most healthy of economic times, there will still be a minimum unemployment rate given there are always workers in transition. As such, perhaps the 7.6% unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is not as high as reported.
Regardless of the natural rate of unemployment (aka structural unemployment, NAIRU), is even one unemployed veteran who wants a job acceptable? The answer is NO.
The government spent billions of dollars bailing out the private sector in the 2008-2010 downturn, while spending billions more on a never-ending war. It is an absolute travesty the government isn’t at least spending the same amount to make sure all veterans have jobs when they return.
We’re not even asking the government to provide outsized incomes, free housing, lifetime tuition for veteran’s children, free medical benefits for life and so forth. Although few would argue about such benefits for those who risk their lives to protect us. All we’re asking is the basic right for all veterans who want jobs to have jobs.
DISCIPLINE AND HONOR
Of the people I know who are up at 5am ready to chat about some business ideas online, they are all veterans. It’s not far-fetched to notice a trend that those who are always early to meetings have some type of military training. There is a certain discipline and level of honor among veterans that is quite apparent. I should think their assets should be quite attractive to any employer.
The government needs to put their entire war chest behind all veterans to find fulfilling jobs back home. A $2,600-$9,600 tax credit is not nearly enough. There needs to be state of the art job skills training centers that are fully paid for to help veterans get up to speed with industries while they were away at war. Every single Congressman and Congresswoman needs to lobby their state’s small businesses to hire their own sons and daughters.
There’s an estimated 22 million veterans in our country and $96 billion was spent in 2009 on compensation, pensions, medical programs, vocational rehabilitation and education. Sounds like a lot until you realize Citigroup alone received a government backstop of $300 billion along with a $20 billion cash infusion by the Treasury!
My sincere hope is that readers submit their concerns directly to the White House here and recognize that we’ve got a lot of work to do for our country’s guardians.