High unemployment is a serious issue for our nation’s veterans. In 2012, the unemployment rate for veterans of recent wars was 9.9 percent, two full percentage points higher than that of the general population.
Both Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden are asking America’s governors to do their part in getting military members and their spouses back to work. The First and Second Ladies made their plea before a meeting of the nation’s governors at the White House Monday.
Along with the end of the war in Afghanistan, an estimated $1 million service members will return home from their posts by the end of 2014.
“While this time of war may be ending, the truth is, is that our responsibility to their troops and their families will really just be ramping up,” she said.
Mrs. Obama is calling on the states to pass laws that will allow veterans to receive professional credentials and licenses related to their military jobs, without having to start from scratch as civilians.
“If a service member has spent years treating wounded troops in a military hospital, they shouldn’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get back into the classroom and study things that they’ve already learned just to get the same kind of job in the civilian world,” she added.
Here in Pennsylvania, veterans can find out about the plethora of services available to them at Careerlink Centers, as they transition back to civilian life.
“We put them in the front of the line, you know. ‘Hey veteran! Here’s a program, let’s sit down and talk to somebody and if you’re interested, we get you in and we get you started,’” said Thomas Woronko, program supervisor at Lancaster County’s CareerLink.
Woronko said a program called Crosswalks matches veterans’ military schools with similar civilian jobs.
As it stands now, vets would still need to go through any required classes and training to get re-certified for those jobs.
“Even though they have very specific, hands-on skills, doing that occupation in the military, when it comes to the civilian world, they need to go with the civilian rules and the civilian rules are really strict on that,” Woronko said.
The First Lady is hoping these state laws will be passed by 2015.