The unemployment report for February was released Friday, and while the results were encouraging for the civilian population, the news was even better for the country's youngest veterans. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans dropped more than two points to 9.4 percent, an indication that the many initiatives aimed at helping servicemembers find jobs are paying off.
The monthly report signals another step forward on the road to economic recovery. Overall, the unemployment rate in the United States dropped from 7.8 percent to 7.7 percent. While it may seem like a modest decrease, it's the lowest unemployment rate in nearly four years. Veterans of all generations enjoyed a good month as well, with their rate dropping from 7.6 percent to 6.9 percent.
A step in the right direction
Any gains in employment are certainly to be applauded, but it's important not to let the momentum drop. There is still considerable work to be done, veteran advocates say. In a speech to Congress earlier this week, Veterans of Foreign Wars commander John Hamilton spoke before Congress and said it should shoulder some of the responsibility of helping them, according to Military Times.
"Our government must do all that it can to encourage private sectors to hire more veterans," Hamilton said. "This includes creating a vocational rehabilitation for life program, as well as closing the military-civilian skills gap and promoting legislation at the state and federal levels for a clear, easier path to civilian licenses."
White House leading the charge
The issue of veterans' unemployment has been one of the chief concerns for White House officials. In February, it released a report analyzing how states can streamline credentialing and licensing processes for servicemembers separating from the Armed Forces. As of last February, only 11 states had passed such legislation, but the Obama administration hopes that all 39 follow suit by 2015.
"Our service men and women are some of the most highly trained, innovative, resilient [and] adaptable … individuals that our country has to offer," Marine Corps Sgt. Major Bryan B. Battaglia told reporters recently.
Need for focus will increase
By the end of this year, 34,000 troops will be home from Afghanistan. The remaining forces stationed there will return to the United States by the end of 2014, and many of them will be looking for civilian jobs.