Re Sept. 5 Associated Press article, “How weak is US job market? Depends on your numbers”
No matter how you slice the data, the national unemployment numbers look far worse for veterans, particularly those who’ve done recent tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thirty percent of these twentysomething veterans can’t find work, despite possessing job skills far beyond their age: the ability to lead or follow when your life depends on it, to focus under pressure and deliver under fire.
We should not be leaving these brave men and women behind. After undergoing so much training to become war fighters, the federal government should give them equal training to enter a tough job market. Instead, budget cuts of $1 trillion could drastically reduce veterans programs, even raising their health care premiums for the first time in more than a decade.
Pentagon leaders say they don’t have the budget to keep premiums at the current rate. Yet not a day goes by that we don’t hear of some new cost overrun on a complex, gold-plated defense program – like the Joint Strike Fighter that’s almost twice as expensive as planned, costing nearly one and a half trillion dollars.
What’s more important: honoring the sacrifices of our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans by helping them find jobs, or footing the bill for expensive weapons that can’t stay within their budgets?
The writer, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, lives in Colchester, Vt.