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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Returning Troops Battle Unemployment

US Dept. of Labor reports unemployment figures for veterans ages 20-24 at over 15% (the civilian rate for the same group: 8%). The Daily Herald [Everett, WA] is reporting on this story:

The House of Representatives passed several bills last week dedicated to aiding veterans who have seen combat and are still active in the military. The package is on its way to the Senate. But the issue of helping returning veterans find a job may have been overlooked. ...

Support is what the Legislature had in mind last week when it passed House Bill 2564, which prohibits discrimination of veterans when it comes to jobs, insurance and credit. At least one combat veteran thinks that support is in the wrong place. "A lot of folks won't hire me because I'm military," state Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, said a young soldier told him. "They say, 'I'm afraid you'll go PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) on me,' or 'I'm afraid you'll be redeployed.' "

Both scenarios are possible for those returning from combat who are still in the military. "With what these kids are seeing over there, it's virtually impossible not to have some form of PTSD," said Ernie Butler, a Vietnam-era veteran and spokesman for the Northwest Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Some expect to be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan for a second or third tour of duty. With the threat of losing a worker at any time, employers may opt not to hire a soldier, said Tim Probst, chief executive officer of the Washington Workforce Association.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

The Seattle Times chimed in on the issue in a recent editorial, stating that "military personnel deserve fair treatment." The Senate is also addressing this issue, with Senator Larry Craig [R-ID] calling for "major improvement" in helping young veterans find work.

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