Tonawanda News

Opinion

November 12, 2012

DUVALL: On Veterans Day, a chance to examine our support

(Continued)

Tonawanda News — Then there is the matter of returning to civilian life. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan between the ages of 18 and 24 have a stunning unemployment rate of 29.1 percent. We owe these young people better. They signed away the years most of us spend carousing with friends and learning who we are. The very least we can do when they come home — no, if they come home — is help them find a job.

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel would be well served to call up his old boss, President Barack Obama, and tell him about what that city is doing to address the problem. Emanuel has created a fund leveraging both public and private money to offer every military veteran in Chicago a $1,000 yearly scholarship to one of the city's seven colleges. He has ordered those colleges to accept military training be honored with college credits so veterans don't have to waste time and money to prove they've got skills anyone can plainly see they've already mastered. And he has ordered each of the city's colleges to create veteran resource centers to assist in obtaining financial aid and job placement.

This can be replicated on a national level — or at least a local one. Which elected official in Western New York will come forward and replicate this model for the former servicemen here?

Supporting the troops with a ribbon on the back of your car is fine. It's a nice gesture. But if you really want to help them, call your congressman. Call your state legislators. Call the mayor and the Erie County executive. 

Remind them on this day more than any other, but on every other day too, we made a promise to these people and it's our duty to keep it.

Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. His column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Contact him at eric.duvall@tonawanda-news.com.

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