Thursday, November 10, 2011

Honor a vet on Veterans' Day - by hiring one

Photo courtesy Wash. State National Guard
The best way to honor those who've served and sacrificed for our country is simple: give one a job. 
According to the Labor Department, the national unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans is 12.1 percent.
That's sadly higher than the state unemployment rate of 9 percent. And even 9 percent is too high.
Our state has a huge population of veterans, because we've always been a hub for the Army, Air Force and Navy.
From the submarines at Bangor to the planes at Fairchild in Spokane, this is a place with a lot of active-duty G.I.'s and veterans who've served out and choose to make this state their home.
We're home to a massive Army-Air Force base (Joint Base Lewis-McChord) and seven different Navy and Marine bases. 
So 12.1 percent unemployment for veterans is a problem that hits home to us.
It's fine to honor veterans on Veterans' Day by flying the American flag, going to parades or calling up vets in your family to wish them well. Those are fine and noble things.
What's better is giving a veteran a job -- or, if you're not in a position to hire somebody, passing on tips to people that do hire, or veterans who need a job.
Most jobs are never advertised. It's all word of mouth. So if you can, please pass on a good word to a vet -- or about a vet you know -- not just on Veterans' Day, but all year round.
There are also some good resources out there for vets and people who'd like to support them: 
  • A new national site by the Labor Department for veterans, My Next Move, is a comprehensive starting point for vets looking for a new career out of uniform.
  • The Washington state Department of Veterans Affairs has a number of programs to help vets and get them jobs, including Hire Vets First and Shop Vets First.
  • The state Veterans Conservation Corps is made up of three separate programs to train and employ veterans in the conservation field, doing work like the restoration of streams, wetlands and forests.