This winter, I visited our nation's capital with dozens of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as a part of IAVA's annual Storm the Hill campaign.
I told leaders all across Washington about my struggles to find a job after returning home to Wyoming from Afghanistan. And together, we called on Congress and the White House to tackle the veteran unemployment crisis.
This morning, I took the stage with President Obama and fellow IAVA members at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. to introduce a bold new plan to lower new veteran unemployment. It has many critical elements that we called for during Storm the Hill and in our 2011 Policy Agenda. From creating tax credits for hiring wounded warriors to calling on the private sector to employ or train 100,000 veterans and their spouses in the coming years, the White House signaled that hiring vets is a smart and practical decision.
This is welcome news for my family and our entire community. But it's really just a start. Last month, new vets faced 12.4% unemployment—leaving over 230,000 of us out of work.
So in the coming months, IAVA will be taking our efforts to the next level. Through our Combat to Career campaign, we'll continue working with our partners in the public and private sectors to lower vet unemployment by Veterans Day 2011 (11/11/11). And from the White House to Citi, the Chamber of Commerce to JCPenney, MillerCoors to Google, we'll rally even more partners to get involved in the fight and get vets hired.
But we can't do it without you.
Visit the Combat to Career hub and spread the word to your friends and families. While there is no silver-bullet solution for veteran unemployment, IAVA is pleased to see Washington echoing our clear message: if you want to support veterans, hire them.
P.S. Thankfully, Washington reached a debt agreement on Tuesday, but we know many of you are still concerned about how cuts may affect military and veterans payments. IAVA continues to track on the latest news and how it will affect our community. You can get real-time updates by following us on Facebook and Twitter.
Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans