Giving Veterans a Life

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryWhen all of the flag waving has stopped, and all of the “thank yous” have ceased, the real nitty-gritty of trying to fit back into life in this country for American soldiers returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has only begun. Of course, they cannot shed the experiences and trauma they had been put through, but it would help to start giving them a life in this land again. And one of the best ways to do this is to give them a job. Sadly, this is something our country has been failing to do. The unemployment rate for returning veterans is almost twice as high as for civilians. A good part of the problem is that employers generally do not want to hire veterans under the misguided and ignorant belief that these returning soldiers “cannot handle the work” or “have suffered too much trauma and cannot do their jobs.” Such non-sense does not take into account the facts that these veterans have worked under extreme circumstances and have performed their jobs admirably. Further, these veterans will bring to any job knowledge, experiences and creativity that can be a plus for just about any occupation.

While the federal government seems to be doing next to nothing to help our returning veterans, some states are trying to deal with the situation. The State of Michigan is one of them. The state government is working to pass the Veterans’ Employment Tax Credit Act of 2011. This legislation will give businesses tax credits for hiring veterans. When you think about it, this is a win-win situation for all. It is certainly a win-win situation for the veterans who need work. It is a win-win situation for any company who needs skilled and hardworking personnel. It is a win-win for the veterans’ communities since they will be productive persons paying taxes. And it is a win-win situation for the state. As many veterans of the Iraq War are now coming home, many will be shedding their uniforms and will be returning to civilian life. Many will be coming home with severe physical injuries—many of which will be lifetime wounds. Then there is the psychological trauna these veterans are suffering from the wars and all of the deployments they have been put through. While no job can completely heal what they have gone through, it can nevertheless help them feel they are needed again and help in part in the healing process.

Michigan itself has one of the highest unemployment rates in the United States. It’s unemployment rate is 15 percent. However, according to state data, the unemployment rate for veterans is closer to 29 percent. Michigan cannot afford to have so many people unemployed, and especially for veterans returning from war or for those currently here. The state is trying desperately to cut its unemployment, and it is hoped that this act, if passed, will start to help make a difference for those who proudly served this country.

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