Finding a good job - finding the right job - is a hard task. As our nation's economy continues to recover from a tough economic downturn, one of the more difficult and underreported effects is the difficulty our military veterans sometimes experience in transitioning to careers upon their return to civilian life. It's a challenge everywhere. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the unemployment rate for veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan approached 11 percent in Nebraska in 2011.
We can all agree that the men and women who put themselves in harm's way on our behalf should not have to face similarly difficult circumstances back home. That's why I am impressed by the recent efforts of Nebraska's business community to take up an organized initiative to connect veterans with good local job opportunities.
This week in Lincoln nearly 100 local employers gathered at the Lancaster Event Center to pitch job openings to veterans. I was pleased to be able to visit with some of those who attended. The "Hiring our Heroes" jobs fair was one of several that will be held across our state and the Midwest.
Hiring our Heroes is a collaboration of state and federal agencies partnering with business associations and others to help match veterans with employers who are looking for managers and leaders with the work ethic, discipline, and professionalism taught in the military. The effort is sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the Department of Labor Veterans' Employment and Training Service (DOL VETS), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Nebraska Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), Nebraska Department of Labor, NE Chamber of Commerce and Industry, NBC News, and other local partners.
Longstanding federal policies exist to help veterans find career opportunities. You likely have a friend or relative who has benefited from the G.I. Bill, which has provided tuition assistance for veterans seeking postsecondary education, non-college degree programs, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training since World War II.
As servicemembers prepare to leave active duty, they first participate in the Transition Assistance Program, a three-day workshop held at military bases across the country. This military-specific program provides servicemembers with information on seeking employment and training, health benefits, and family support services.
And through the website VetSuccess.gov, potential employers are able to post job listings and browse the resumes of qualified veterans. For disabled veterans, the federal Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program specifically helps them find and keep jobs, including providing evaluations, counseling, and job-training skills. For severely disabled veterans who are unable to work, the program helps them find independent living services.
Our veterans have served us. As they complete their service and earn an education or begin careers, we have the opportunity to help serve them. Public and private partnerships like Hiring our Heroes play an important role in these efforts. I thank all the employers, agencies, and organizations involved in helping make the 2013 Hiring our Heroes jobs fair another successful event for area veterans, and I encourage any veterans seeking additional information on employment and career resources to contact my office.