The Free Press, Mankato, MN


November 12, 2013

Veterans make world safer

Why it matters:U.S. involvement in conflicts around the world relies on Veterans' willingness to serve

On Veterans Day we remember we’re kept safe by the service of hundreds of thousands of veterans who risk their lives in a world that grows more dangerous every year.

Like their brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers before them, today’s veterans face harm from dozens of conflicts where the weaponry seems unlimited and those willing to use it for evil seems unrestrained.

Veterans Day ceremonies and events seem almost too small a gratitude for the enormous sacrifices that have been made by veterans. Fortunately, the support for veterans during and after their service appears to be growing. It’s a good sign.

There are many support services for veterans coming home. There’s a new recognition that integrating back into civilian life is not easy. Various programs aim to help veterans and their families make a smooth transition back to a normal family life.

That transition back to civilian life is made easier if veterans secure employment or can go back to the job they left when they were deployed. Veteran unemployment still remains too high.

The unemployment rate for all veterans stood at 6.5 percent in September, but for Gulf War II era veterans – those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan – the unemployment rate was 10 percent.

Some action has been taken on this front. Many veterans are eligible for training or retraining through a new GI Bill education program. About a year ago, Minnesota added its own changes to veteran hiring preference laws. The number of “points” for veterans passing a pre-employment test for any state job was increased to 10 to 15 points from 5 to 10.

The law also tightened up rules for state employers holding open jobs for veterans who are deployed. It allowed for private employers and county governments to set up veteran preference hiring systems.

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