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Opening Statement of Hon. Russ Carnahan, a Representative in Congress from the State of Missouri

Chairman Miller, Chairman Murray, Ranking Member Filner, thank you for hosting this hearing to discuss the important issue of putting America’s veterans back to work.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that in March and April of this year about 27 percent of veterans between 20 to 24 years of age were unemployed.  Other sources show it to even be higher.  These are truly disheartening numbers.  After fighting to protect our country, we must make certain that our brave veterans are able to obtain a livelihood after returning from service.

In this tough economy, jobs are hard to come by, particularly for newly returned veterans.  Our young returning combat soldiers, and those severely injured during military service have the hardest time securing employment following military service. 

It is vitally important to ensure that our returning veterans are able to secure and maintain employment after returning to civilian life.  Not only does employment offer salary and benefits, employment also provides an important sense of purpose and aides in the transition from military to civilian life.  We in Congress must work with relevant stakeholders to guarantee that opportunities exist for our veterans to obtain gainful and meaningful employment.

Today’s hearing provides a dialogue between Congress and those with intimate knowledge of what needs to be done to get our veterans back to work upon their return from military service.  Whether it is through job training or career counseling, we must allow access to services that prepare our veterans for careers outside of the military, and assist them as they transition to a world that is increasingly unfamiliar with the ways of the military.  I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on ways we can begin to reduce employment and underemployment amongst or veterans.