Mullen: Veterans Need Job, Education Opportunities
August 25, 2010 - 5:14 PMThe chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked business leaders Wednesday to take a chance on veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and offer them jobs and mentorship.
U.S. military chief Adm. Mike Mullen told the Executives' Club of Chicago that the unemployment rate for veterans is 11 percent, above the national average of 9.5 percent. He also said countless veterans from current conflicts remain homeless.
More than 1 million veterans "are returning from these wars and whose American dream hasn't changed a bit," Mullen said. "They would like an education, it's obvious they'd like to raise a family, they'd like to own a home. And certainly they'd like to be contributing members of society, and a big part of that is to be employed."
As combat operations end in Iraq, troops will spend more time at home than they have in the past, easing the constant cycle of deploying, returning home and deploying again.
Mullen called on business leaders to help veterans - many of whom are in their 20s - transition back to civilian life, and he said the military is placing a renewed focus on their post-deployment needs. That's meant moving away from the current model of telling soldiers, "have a nice life" after they leave active service, Mullen said.
Tens of thousands of the soldiers who've returned from war are wounded, 40,000 of them physically, and Mullen said too much attention has been paid to their disabilities and how they may be a burden. Veterans have unique life experiences and loyalty to offer companies, colleges and universities, he said.
"We need to focus on the potential," he said. "For those that don't know us, take a chance, it's worth the risk," he added.
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