Last month was an extraordinary month. General James Jones, the former National Security Advisor and Marine Commandant, was appointed as co-chair of The Call of Duty Endowment, our not-for-profit organization dedicated to finding jobs for Veterans. I can’t thank the General enough for his willingness to help shine a brighter light on one of the most important issues of our time, the rising challenge of finding careers for our veterans.
We created The Call of Duty Endowment to fund organizations across the country and around the world to help soldiers transition back to civilian life after they have completed their military service, specifically through job training and placement. I think most Americans would be shocked to learn of the difficulty these talented men and women face when they seek to join, or re-join, the civilian workforce.
Not many realize, for instance, that according to a report released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobless rate among vets ages 18-24 who have served since 9/11 is 29.1 percent. This is substantially higher than the jobless rate among non-vets in the same age bracket (17.6 percent). It is a nothing short of a tragedy.
I am committed to raising awareness as well as helping to put veterans back to work, and our chances for success in accomplishing these goals are greatly improved with General Jones as a partner in our efforts.
The General and I have spent a great deal of time discussing the obstacles facing our returning veterans. The federal government through the Veterans Administration and efforts like Joining Forces are important initiatives in addressing the challenge of finding careers for veterans. But we need to have business – both small and large – to recognize their responsibility to our men and women in uniform. We need to remind ourselves that our armed forces protect the freedom and democracy we are so privileged to enjoy, and we need to make certain their sacrifices are honored through employment opportunities.
In my recent guest blog for The Huffington Post, “Message to American Business: Unemployed Veterans Deserve Call to Duty,” I urged employers to step up to the plate and replace yellow ribbons with help wanted signs. Please share your thoughts. If you have suggestions for new employment opportunities or programs for finding jobs please share them. We need your help and ideas!