Veterans Can Raise Our Economy

Feb 23, 2013

Photo: Joe Rosenthal/Associated Press

Sixty-eight years ago, five United States Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman raised the flag of the United States atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

This historic photo not only makes me proud to be a 20-year Marine veteran, but it also captures why Hiring Our Heroes was started a couple of years ago. For me, it is unconscionable that our youngest generation of veterans face significantly higher unemployment than their civilian peers, considering all they have to offer after serving our nation. 

Think of what this single picture represents in terms of the skills that the one million transitioning servicemembers will bring to the U.S. economy, as they leave the military in search of a civilian career over the next five years. Their leadership and management experience, mission focus, and ability to work well in teams are precious commodities in an American workforce that is desperate for skilled workers.  

We have close to four million jobs in our country that are going unfilled because of a shortage of skilled workers. And there is no better source of talent and experience than our nation's veterans.  It is clear we need to do a better job of connecting employers with veterans looking for work. And that will continue to be the focus of Hiring Our Heroes, as we roll out several innovative on-line programs to help veterans, transitioning servicemembers, and military spouses find meaningful careers.

After World War II millions of veterans came home and helped our economy thrive. Similarly, the drawdown of our armed forces over the next half a decade is an opportunity for America.  Just like the six WWII veterans who lifted America's colors on Mt. Suribachi, there are more than one million men and women who will shed their uniforms and go back to local communities across America over the next five years. They have raised our flag high in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and across the globe since 9-11. Now it's time for them to lift our economy and infuse growth industries like manufacturing, energy, healthcare, information technology, transportation, and infrastructure with the talent they desperately need.

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