Nov. 3, 2011
BOSTON — As the Iraq War winds down, state officials are planning to ramp up services for returning service members. Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick announced a number of new initiatives on Nov. 2, including a program to encourage Bay State businesses to hire more veterans.
The recession has hit recent veterans especially hard. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate is 9.1 percent, while for returning veterans between the ages of 18 to 24 it’s 21 percent.
Patrick said these numbers reflect the harsh reality in Massachusetts as well:
“This is tragic. Not only because of the special contributions of servicemen and -women in the military, but because also of the special opportunity to take advantage of the training, the discipline and the skill sets that veterans bring to the workforce,” he said.
Patrick also announced plans to boost funding for veterans’ services in next year’s budget by $2.8 million dollars, including $500,000 for job training in manufacturing and $700,0000 for smoking cessation. Massachusetts is home to more than 390,000 veterans, and 37,000 residents have been deployed since 9/11.