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Some Go Extra Mile to Hire Growing Pool of Jobless Veterans

USA Today (03/20/12) Gregg Zoroya

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 30% of male veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 were unemployed in 2011, versus 17.6% of their civilian peers, while 36% of female veterans in the same age group were out of work, versus 14.5% of civilian women. Experts say it is a challenge to train veterans in nonmilitary skills, but an Obama administration initiative that includes tax credits for employers, corporate hiring pledges, and job fairs is helping to lower unemployment rates among veterans. According to a January survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, companies hiring veterans rose to 64% from 53% in 2010.

However, 154,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were unemployed in February, and the number is expected to rise as the military sheds troops now that the conflict in Afghanistan is coming to an end. Michael Aitkin, a vice president at SHRM, says companies are “getting buffeted by a lot of résumés from (nonveteran) folks that are unemployed, that have the skills and everything else.” He says aggressive outreach is necessary, given that 67% of employers say they are unaware of programs by the U.S. Department of Labor to link veterans with jobs and that 20% of those familiar with the programs do not use them. Experts say initiatives to link veterans with jobs may be most successful at the community level.