Photo credit: Kathy Lovin

Written by Dawn Wright, The Salvation Army, Southern California Division

One in every eight workers in California is unemployed and the state borrows $13 million a day from the federal government just to pay unemployment insurance. According to economists, 200,000 or more jobs a month must be added for several months to bring the unemployment rate down.

Those are grim statistics, but when it comes to returning servicemen and servicewomen, the issue is even more acute. Though not always in the headlines, the cold reality is that unemployment among veterans is disproportionately high.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 250,000 veterans were unemployed as of March 2010. Bureau of Labor statistics show the unemployment rate last year for young male veterans, including those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, hit 21.6 percent. It’s clear, veterans often have a hard time transitioning from war to peace, and coming home and finding work.

This Veterans Day, The Salvation Army Southern California Division urges local businesses to take the “Hire a Veteran, Build a Stronger Community” challenge, and seek out veterans when hiring. Veterans offer leadership, responsibility, strong work ethic, motivation, and have a “can do” attitude.

Veterans who take active roles in rebuilding their lives at The Salvation Army’s comprehensive programs, leave equipped for the work force. A few examples include:
>> The Haven, a Salvation Army homeless shelter specifically for veterans located on the Veteran’s Administrative campus in West Los Angeles, helps veterans with a “Return to Work” program. Here, veterans learn computer skills, receive support with writing cover letters and resumes, as well as job placement supportive services. JC Penney is just one of the companies that has reaped the benefits of hiring graduates from the program. “We have hired Haven graduates in the past and have been very happy with their work performance,” said a store manager of the Santa Monica JC Penney store.

>> Hope Harbor near USC and Bell Shelter in Bell, Calif. – Salvation Army homeless shelters – though not exclusively serving veterans, both facilities serve many veterans due to the fact veterans make up roughly one-third of the homeless population. Each year, these shelters collectively help to get about 1,100 veterans back on their feet.

The next time you have an opening on your team, consider putting a hero on the payroll by hiring a veteran. Thank you.

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