Manchin backs job help for returning soldiers
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., will join Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and several Senate colleagues at the U.S. Capitol this afternoon to discuss growing support for the Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus.
Since Manchin and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., created the caucus Feb. 7, it has grown to include 27 senators from both political parties.
"This is something very close to my heart. I have been very concerned about the unemployment crisis among our veterans. It is of historic proportions," Manchin said Tuesday during a telephone press conference.
"In February, there were 777,000 unemployed veterans. As we cut back troops, we will have another 100,000 veterans who will be in need of jobs."
Today, the national unemployment rate is 8.9 percent, while that rate is 12.1 percent for veterans.
Young veterans, between the ages of 18 and 24, have an unemployment rate of 29.1 percent, Manchin said.
"These are young adults who are disciplined and well-trained, who have done at least two years of service. This is mind-boggling," Manchin said. "When they return home, we should do all we can to try to get them back into the mainstream of America."
Representatives from veterans groups, military service organizations and private sector businesses also will attend this afternoon's event at the Capitol.
The public, Manchin said, should "help veterans coming out of the military. They have difficulty in coming home and finding jobs....
"We put up yellow ribbons. We fly the American flag to show our respect for veterans. But veterans need more than that. The largest crisis they are facing is unemployment."
The Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus has also created an "I Hire Veterans" logo that can be used on signs put up by small businesses, large corporations or government offices, Manchin said.
In addition to Solis, representatives from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs will attend today's meeting.
The Senate caucus also is working to create websites to help returning veterans "go online and see what jobs will be available in the areas where they will live.
"We think it will be great help in transitioning veterans back to the private sector."
Other groups have already agreed to help in these efforts.
"We have employers, from the large box stores down to individual business owners getting involved. Some soldiers have been doing two, three or four tours of duty.
"We want to make sure there is a job waiting for them," Manchin said. "We need to do more than just them a give token 'Thank you for serving our country.'"
Other senators active in the new caucus include: Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Scott Brown, R-Mass.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.
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