Editorial: Use stimulus money to help veterans find jobs
Gov. Deval Patrick signed legislation in Quincy on Wednesday that provides an array of new benefits for veterans, but after months of drawing fire overseas what these men and women really need now is to draw a salary at home.
Of the many worthwhile job creation projects being undertaken with federal stimulus money, our Congressional representatives should craft legislation that puts a paycheck in the hands of those struggling with re-entry into civilian life.
What better use of their skills, talents and commitment than jobs providing security here at home.
Patrolling ports and transportation hubs, advising police departments and private security companies, training mall, government and utility security forces and assisting at health centers and hospitals.
Recent headlines – whether it’s the massacre at Fort Hood or the arrest of terror suspects here in Massachusetts – have more than amply highlighted the need for more and better security in this country.
The law signed by Patrick on Veterans Day gives employers incentives to hire disabled vets, allows vets to apply military service to licensing and apprenticeship requirements and puts an extra $500 in their pocket when they get home.
Those gestures and initiatives aimed at taking better care of veterans’ health are all generous.
Yet there isn’t a person in government who hasn’t lamented our skyrocketing unemployment rate and stated that job creation is the key to getting us out of this protracted recession.
So let’s put our veterans to work. Security jobs, as we say, are a natural but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also find them employment in communications, engineering, health and other fields in which they may have been trained.
“There’s no question – jobs are the big problem,” said Marshfield Veterans Agent Richard Martin.
“The employment market is not good for anyone right now, and that includes veterans,” adds Frank Burke, Weymouth’s veterans agent.
On Monday, President Obama signed an executive order creating the Council on Veterans Employment, part of an initiative to encourage federal agencies to recruit and train military veterans.
That’s a great idea. Meanwhile, however, we’ve got stimulus money running through the economy like a river in spring.
Veterans who cannot find work today cannot wait for a new federal council to churn out a study and recommendations. They need work now, and if Congress diverted a small amount of the flood of stimulus funds to serve this end, they and our economy would be better served.
We urge you to contact your representative and let them know you support immediate action on behalf of unemployed veterans.
Helping them find gainful employment will go a long way to smoothing their transition home, it will help us right our economy and for a nation jaded by public-funded bonuses for Wall Street insiders it could go a long way to reassuring taxpayers that the stimulus money is ending up in the hands of people who truly deserve it.
The Patriot Ledger
YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES
Sen. John Kerry
304 Russell Building, 3rd Floor, Washington, D.C. 20510. Phone: 617-565-8519; 202-224-2742
Sen. Paul Kirk
317 Russell Building, Washington, D.C. 20510. Phone: 617-565-3170; 202-224-4543
Rep. William Delahunt
2454 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515 Phone: 617-770-3700; 202-225-3111
Rep. Stephen Lynch
221 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515. Phone: 508-586-5555; 202-225-8273
Rep. Barney Frank
2252 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515. Phone: 508-822-4796; 202-225-5931