One State is not Forgetting Veterans, and It's Not a Red State
After dodging roadside bombs and avoiding heatstroke in Iraq and Afghanistan, many Oregon Army National Guard soldiers come home to another challenge -- unemployment.
About half of the latest wave of 700 returning Oregon Guardsmen didn't have civilian jobs before they were deployed, a U.S. Labor Department official said Tuesday. Other members of the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, which arrived home last week, lost their jobs while they were on active duty.
The high unemployment rate among Guard soldiers "certainly was a surprise to me," said Ron Cannon, the Labor Department's director of Veterans Employment and Training in Portland. "We're trying to put our finger on it." Oregon's overall unemployment rate stands at about 6.4 percent.
The numbers defy the traditional image of Guard soldiers as part-time reservists who leave civilian careers and families to serve when needed, then pick up where they left off when their tour ends.
The problem has prompted the Labor Department to offer Oregon a first-ever training program for returning soldiers, tutoring them on everything from how to craft a resume to how to dress for a job interview. And it moved Gov. Ted Kulongoski to publicly call on Oregon employers to "give 'em a job."
....Returning soldiers are going to have a tough enough time readjusting to civilian life after their extended tours overseas, the governor said at a news conference.
"They don't need to be worrying about whether they're going to be able to find a job or not," Kulongoski said. "The employers of the state can do this. All they have to do is step up to it, make it a priority, hire a vet."
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