IAVA Rolls Out New Vlan to Help Vets Find Jobs

Post date: Mar 11, 2011 10:23:21 PM

Army Times

By Rick Maze - Staff writer

Posted : Friday Mar 4, 2011 11:14:34 EST

With a new jobs report showing that young veterans continue to have difficulty finding work in a tough economy, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has unveiled a comprehensive plan for helping vets find post-service jobs.

Friday’s U.S. Labor Department jobs report finds the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans dropped from 15.2 percent in January to 12.5 percent in February, but it is still higher than the 11.5 percent average for 2010 and much higher than the national unemployment rate of 8.9 percent in February, the first time the national rate has dipped below 9 percent in almost two years.

For all veterans, the February unemployment rate was 9.2 percent, down from 9.8 percent in January.

IAVA, an advocacy group formed in 2004, is concerned that the job market doesn’t seem to be improving for veterans. Already, an estimated 278,000 returning combat veterans are hunting for jobs and not finding them in a continued sluggish economy, with signs that things are not going to get better soon without dramatic action.

“We are not doing enough,” said Tim Embree, a Marine veteran and IAVA legislative associate.

Embree said his group’s plan will seek to create jobs for veterans through a combination of teaching new job-seeking skills, providing better education benefits, defending against job discrimination and working with community and corporate leaders to help create a climate in which companies want to hire veterans.

IAVA also wants a presidential summit on veterans’ hiring to get the attention of corporate leaders and nonprofit groups and wants a national jobs data base specifically for veterans who are looking for work.

“There is no silver bullet, no one thing that is going to solve this,” Embree said.

Many current programs are aimed at helping veterans find work, but Embree said they don’t seem to be working that well. That is the reason why IAVA is seeking a review every three years of the military’s Transition Assistance Program, which is supposed to help separating and retiring service members learn job-hunting skills. Embree said the program, known as TAP, needs to be audited every three years, at a minimum, to verify that people actually get jobs as a result of the workshops and lectures.

IAVA also wants the government to expand tax credits for businesses that hire veterans, require federal contractors to publicly report the number of veterans they higher and ensure federally financed construction projects are made available to veteran-owned businesses.

The issue of veterans employment is getting attention from Congress, but a key lawmaker isn’t sure about singling out younger veterans for special help.

“It is no secret that veterans are facing difficult times finding and retaining good-paying jobs,” Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s economic opportunity panel, said Thursday. “Unemployment rates for veterans in some age groups significantly exceed the rates for nonveterans of the same age, and that is just not right.”

In terms of sheer numbers, older veterans face unemployment rates “that often exceeds their nonveteran peers,” Stutzman said, noting that 63 percent of the 1.1 million unemployed veterans are 35 and older.

“Unfortunately, those veterans have little or no access to veterans education, training and retraining programs. They are also the group that tends to have the highest financial obligations, like mortgages and paying for their children’s education,” Stutzman said.