Veterans’ Unemployment Rate Falls

The unemployment rate for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has fallen to 7.6 percent, below the overall national unemployment rate that now stands at 8.3 percent, said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Thursday. The current veterans’ unemployment rate is significantly lower than last year’s high of 12.5 percent, and that trend is encouraging, said Panetta in Kabul to reporters traveling with him on his official visit to Afghanistan. Panetta said the need for veterans finding employment in the mainstream economy will only increase as the services look to cut end strength. “I have to commend the private sector, because they really have put together… [a] public campaign” to raise awareness of this issue, he said. However, as more troops leave active duty in search of civilian jobs, “it’s very important that we … [help] give them the ability to find a job, education, [or] start a business,” he added. Panetta said efforts by President Obama and the Veterans Affairs Department have helped improve the situation. (AFPS report by Karen Parrish)