Why One Senator Wants to Require Professional Training for Soldiers
Nearly one in five is unemployed. The veterans between the ages of 18 to 24 are returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, and their difficulty in finding a job has as much to do with their post-traumatic stress disorder as with an insufficient infrastructure to help the warriors.
Such a scenario has motivated New York's junior Senator, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, to sponsor the Hiring Heroes Act (HHA) of 2011.
"Too many of our troops who risked their lives protecting our country are returning home to an alarming rate of joblessness," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said during a press conference, according to the Associated Press.
The act is aiming to provide direct support for the basics of the job search -- from the resume to the interview. But the snag is that the bill will make such training a requirement of service in the armed forces. (Roughly 33 percent of military members do not participate in current voluntary programs, according to the Department of Defense and the AP.)
Gillibrand expects the HHA to pass by year's end. Such a goal should not be too lofty, given the dramatic nature of veterans' unemployment. In addition to the oft-cited 1-in-5 stat for the very young vets, all post-9/11 vets are suffering at an unemployment rate that's slightly more than four points worse than the national average.
And as the Los Angeles Times points out, that number should only be expected to grow as more soldiers return home from war. In total, roughly 55,000 troops will return from the Middle East theater by the end of 2011, according to plans announced by President Obama.
The plight of veterans seeking employment was given a particular spotlight this week, as Prince William and his new wife, Princess Kate, visited the Hiring Heroes job fair at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, Calif.
The royals' hope to bring greater attention to unemployed vets is a symbolic boost for a group whose challenges on the employment line are particularly acute. As the Los Angeles Times goes on to note, many of the veterans went into service with just a high school diploma, leaving them particularly ill-suited to compete as a job applicants.
The climate is such that one veteran who served in Iraq for 16 months, before re-enlisting for a second tour of duty, compared it to his experience overseas.
In an interview with The New York Daily News, 27-year-old Abbas Malik, a specialist in the Army Reserves, said, "Many warriors, coming home, find themselves fighting a new war."
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