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Coming Home: The hardships veterans face when they return from war

As of last month, an estimated 850,000 veterans were unemployed and the jobless rate for post-9/11 veterans was at 12.1 percent – that’s nearly 3 percent higher than the national unemployment rate. Add to this that one million service members will be returning to the civilian workforce in the next five years, and it’s clear that today’s veterans are facing a daunting financial road ahead.

But even more troubling is that this economic insecurity is leading to more and more of these post 9/11 veterans winding up homeless and on the streets – especially those under the age of 30, according to a joint study by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Veterans Affairs. These young vets now make up a disproportionately large share of the homeless population nationwide. So an array of federal agencies have launched new campaigns to help these returning vets in their transition back to the civilian world. And on the eve of Veterans Day, the Senate passed one piece of President Obama’s stalled jobs package, approving legislation that would offer tax credits to businesses that hire military veterans, and fund retraining programs for older unemployed vets. The Obama administration has additionally announced a series of new initiatives to combat veteran unemployment, including a veterans job bank. And the V.A. has pledged to end homelessness among vets by 2015 with their own set of new programs.

But these initiatives can hardly come soon enough. As we discovered during a recent visit to southern New Jersey, some of our young vets who escaped the battlefield with their lives are now enduring lives of hardship back home.

For more information about jobs programs for veterans, visit the websites below: