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Congress: Encourage Employers to Hire Veterans

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It's no secret that Washington is leaving most Americans disappointed these days. With all the partisan fighting, the bad economy, and worries about unemployment and cutting social security benefits, it was a welcome sight today to hear President Obama announce his Veterans Employment Initiative.

The unemployment rate among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is higher than the national average, and as Paul Reikoff, Executive Director and Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, says here on Huffington Post, in some parts of the country, their unemployment rate is much higher, as high as 30%.

The fact of high joblessness among war veterans is nothing new to me. For a year, Second Chance Employment Services has been working hard on a special project devoted to training and finding jobs for female veterans.

The sad fact is that women veterans have been faced with some of the worst conditions, as the rate of domestic violence suffered by female veterans is often higher than the national average. Struggling to create a normal life after serving, being away from their families for extended periods of time and not being able to find a decent job creates a downward spiral.

In the bad economy, domestic violence is on the rise. This issue is especially important in the veteran community, as many vets come home with psychological problems that aren't adequately addressed. Add joblessness to the mix, and you create a situation that is ripe for domestic violence.

Over the past year Second Chance Employment Services has helped over 100 women vets through our job training programs, job placement programs, and referral services for everything from legal assistance and psychological counseling to housing and daycare. But there's so many more women to help that we're struggling to keep up the pace.

The private sector needs to step up. It needs to reach out to organizations like Second Chance Employment Services and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Employers and human resource professionals need to make a move in our direction, rather than waiting for us to make a move in their direction. Organizations like Second Chance and IAVA have thousands of veterans to connect to, to employ. One only needs to contact us.

President Obama's Initiative will also hopefully make Congress step up, too. Perhaps it is the push Congress needs to pass long-stalled legislation that encourages the hiring of veterans. One such piece of legislation would allow tax cuts for companies that do hire veterans. Although I must say, it's a sad day in America if it takes tax cuts to motivate employers to hire the people who have served our country, sacrificing their lives, and their livelihoods.

There's no doubt that unemployment is a big problem for so many Americans today. But the most vulnerable among us, returning war veterans, victims of domestic violence, the disabled, need -- even deserve -- as much extra assistance as they can get... as we can give them.