As March parades into spring, our economy continues to add jobs at a steady pace. But these tidings are tinged with the reality that for our returning veterans, the specter of unemployment stalks them as they shed the uniform and rejoin the civilian ranks.
We may have cased the colors in Iraq, but the Afghan War continues. Veterans between the ages of 18 to 24 are shackled with an unemployment rate approaching 30%. That's right -- nearly a third of young veterans are unable to find work. Nearly 12% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are unemployed. And even though the unemployment rate for all veterans fell this past month from 9.1% to 7.6%, we can all agree that that remains unacceptably high.
Lincoln said in his Second Inaugural, "To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan." Those words became the motto of the Department of Veterans' Affairs. They really should be the byword for all of us who labor under the blanket of protection that these women and men provide for us. Too often, we're just happy to shake a veteran's hand, and thank them for their service. Our thanks should extend beyond that, I think.
That's why I'm helping to set up America Wants You. America Wants You is a new initiative that teams up with corporate America to make hiring vets a top priority in the U.S. Veterans already possess many, if not most, of the badly-needed skills that corporations look for in new employees. Dedication, discipline, responsibility, service above self - veterans have all these qualities and then some. Tax incentives for hiring veterans exist for corporations and this is a community responsibility. The men and women who served our country deserve this at the very least.
CareerBuilder recently joined us in directing 10,000 jobs targeting veterans and their skill set at our website. Veterans can go there and search for jobs in a wide variety of fields.
We can do better by our veterans. We, as corporations and business decision makers, must do better. It's not enough to say thanks; we have to demonstrate our thanks. The women and men returning home stand ready, willing, and able to help keep America great; will we do our part? I believe we must. The American military is noted for its ingenuity and daring in the field of battle. It is past time for us to introduce those elements into American corporations, in order to properly meet the challenges facing America's economy in this new century.
Join us. America Wants You... wants you, if you're an employer, to do your part. If you're hiring, we know that there's a dedicated veteran just waiting for their chance to contribute.