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2012 Should Be the Year of the Veteran and Military Spouse

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With 2011 marking the year that we finally brought our troops home from Iraq, I think it is critical that we take the time to not only thank the men and women who served the nation during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but to also do everything we can to help those who are leaving active duty and looking to re-enter the civilian world.

Last year it seemed there was a new initiative launched every week to help veterans and military spouses with their search for employment, and any and all support is both needed and very much appreciated by those seeking the jobs, but 2012 needs to be the year we execute and turn the initiatives into actual jobs for this most deserving group of patriots.

The year is off to a great start with several hiring events planned for the military community such as:

There is no better way to show our appreciation to the men and women who served, and their spouses than to help them assimilate back into the civilian society with gainful employment. We speak to hundreds of employers every week, and we have yet to hear anyone say they would not want to hire a veteran, but the reality is we need to do much more. Employers can help by stepping up and adopting an actual military hiring strategy that will help them in seeking out the wide range of talent veterans and military spouses bring to the workforce.

The unemployment rate overall for veterans in November 2011 was at 7.2% which is lower than the national average, and speaks to the veterans ability and talent in keeping a job once they have it. For veterans between the ages of 18-24 the unemployment rate is a mind blowing 37.9% according to data compiled by the Institute for Veterans and military families at Syracuse University. Equally alarming is the unemployment rate for military spouses according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics was at 26% as of June 2011.

I offer this challenge to the Fortune 1,000 employers out there who benefit day in and day out from the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have served our country, hire 10 veterans and/or military spouses this year, and if we do just that, we can help 1 million find gainful employment in 2012.

There are tremendous tax advantages currently being offered to employers who hire veterans, but beyond the tax benefits, it simply makes good business sense to hire quality talent whenever and wherever we can find it, and veterans and military spouse represent some of the best talent available in the market. President Obama signed into law the VOW act in November of 2011 which provides employers up to a $9,600 tax credit if they hire a veteran with a disability.

Veterans Out of Work

  • Vietnam Era Veterans: 236,000
  • Cold War Era Veterans: 258,000
  • Persian Gulf War Era Veterans: 182,000
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Era Veterans: 192,000

As a society, we owe it to those who volunteered to protect our freedoms and way of life the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labor and sacrifice once they leave active service, and with just a little more focus and dedication, this is one initiative we can all get behind.