Administration, Pentagon Focus On Veterans Issues

By Matthew Mientka
Defense Media Activity, Emerging Media

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The drive down Constitution Avenue here on a sunny winter afternoon offers an anecdotal showing of problems faced by some of America’s war veterans.

Facing Virginia motorists from a traffic island, a graying man bills himself as a “homeless vet,” asking for a dollar, maybe two.

But the image may fade with time, particularly as the administration seeks $57 billion in additional funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly $800 million of which would go to expand services for such homeless veterans, who are believed to compose 16% of the nation’s homeless population. On any given night in 2009, 76,000 homeless veterans had no place to go, according to a report released today by U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development.

As the Veterans Administration works with other federal government agencies, local governments and private organizations, the U.S. Army Reserve launched a service intended to help veterans suffering from a far more common problem—joblessness. In fact, the unemployment rate for veterans remains twice as high as for the general population.

However, for many employers the hiring of veterans is not a hard sell. “It’s all about connecting supply and demand,” Maj. Gen. Keith L. Thurgood, deputy chief of the Army Reserve, said. “It’s a mutually beneficial program in which employers get someone who’s drug-free, understands collaboration [and] can think strategically….”

EmployerPartnership.org offers connections to some 1,300 employers with job openings, including 95 Fortune 500 companies.

For more on the partnership, read the Defense.gov News story.

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