Unemployment among veterans who recently left military service has topped 13 percent in recent months.
With more than 100,000 service people expected to return to civilian life in the months ahead, the big concern is where will these veterans find jobs?
Local political leaders and veterans groups met Wednesday in the hopes of putting pressure on Congress to approve programs that would help veterans connect with work.
“We have to do way more than put stickers on our cars,” said Judith Broder, MD, of the Soldiers Project.
She was one of the speakers at the conference held at USC’S Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families, which also featured LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Representatives Karen Bass and Linda Sanchez.
Some of those taking part in the program have known the sting of returning to civilian life during the Vietnam Era and ending up homeless.
They told the lawmakers there were programs in place, but they lacked outreach.
“There needs to be some way to bring everybody together –under the mayor –and create a real veterans advisory committee,” said John Keaveney, the founder of New Directions, a veterans’ assistance program.
While the conference was underway at USC, a job fair for veterans called “Hiring Our Heroes” was taking place at the Proud Bird Restaurant in Westchester.
This was one of several such job fairs that have been held this year. One of the organizers, Craig Frierson, explained employers cannot go wrong hiring a veteran.
“They’re disciplined, they’re eager. They are excellent employees,” Frierson said.
Organizers estimated some 2,000 unemployed veterans attended the latest job fair and they were already making plans to hold another one in about six months.