April 11, 2012

Providing jobs for veterans must be a top priority in U.S. | Times West Virginian

When members of the military are engaged in conflict, yellow ribbons can often be seen just about anywhere in support of the troops.

The ribbons are tied around utility poles and trees or displayed on mailboxes. They decorate front doors and can even be spotted attached to vehicles. Many people might even wear a small pin as a daily reminder of the men and women who are serving and protecting this nation.

Now there’s a new “yellow ribbon.”

As part of the “I Hire Veterans” initiative born out of the Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus — an effort spearheaded by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and his colleague Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill. — a new logo is being made available to businesses that employ former service members.

It’s all part of the effort designed to solve the unemployment crisis that veterans face in this country. Even though many of these brave men and women served their country overseas, they are returning home to find that there are simply no jobs for them here. In fact, 857,000 veterans in the United States are unemployed.

That’s where the “I Hire Veterans” initiative comes in.

The endeavor is designed to help returning service members — men and women who are dedicated and equipped with great skills and talents — find employment. Businesses that have hired veterans are being encouraged to place the “I Hire Veterans” logo in their windows.

“Think of this as the new ‘yellow ribbon,’” Manchin said in a press release. “Unemployment is one of the biggest problems our service members are facing, so we wanted to show that we can walk the walk when it comes to hiring veterans. Veterans who have served this country are so skilled and qualified for so many jobs.

“We’re so proud to display this logo as a sign of our commitment to ending the veterans’ unemployment crisis, and we invite members of the public — especially business owners — to join us,” Manchin continued. “And I hope that consumers who are shopping at different stores take their business to stores that hire veterans as a sign of their support.”

In addition to creating the “I Hire Veterans” program, the Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus is organizing monthly events for members to talk about veterans employment initiatives, and teaming up with constituents, government and service organizations to respond to issues. The group will also work with local, state and national employers on efforts.

We hope more businesses take advantage of this opportunity to not only hire the men and women who have served their country, but to promote that fact so customers will know they’re supporting a business that does so.

It can’t be said enough: We must do all we can to help our veterans. Regardless of their length of duty or where they served, providing jobs for former soldiers must be a top priority.

After all, their decision to serve was certainly a selfless one. It’s sad to think that thousands of them are coming home to a country that can’t provide them the basic means to support their family.

Let’s put our veterans back to work, and display the new “yellow ribbon” with pride.

By:  Editorial