Vets & Unemployment

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Governor Schwarzenegger touring the “Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet” job fair at The Proud Bird Restaurant in Los Angeles. (Credit: Schwarzenegger's Office)

California is home to more veterans than any other state in the nation: 2 million men and women. You'd think their experience and training would make them eminently desirable to employers, but the 2009 California unemployment rate for veterans 18 to 24 years old was 25.9 percent, far above the 19.8 percent rate for non-veterans in the same age range, according to data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Yesterday’s "Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet" fair in LA brought out big name employers, like Kaiser Permanente, the Los Angeles Police Department, and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.

But it doesn't take a big, urban employer to give a vet a helping hand up. Lily Casura of the Napa Valley Register tells us about a program called the Farmer-Veteran Coalition. Established farmers mentor  Iraq and Afghanistan vets, helping them get launched, and ultimately, self-sufficient.

Santa Cruz-area organic farmer Michael O’Gorman started the program. He says, “It’s not just the plants and animals that are healing — it’s having a mission, where young people who want to work hard and produce real goods are valued again. It’s being needed — and our farming community needs young, bright, strong people who stand back up when they are knocked down.”

KQED's Forum addresses vets and unemployment today at 9:30.

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About Rachael Myrow

From KQED’s Bureau in San Jose, Rachael Myrow covers politics, economics, technology, food and culture in a vast region extending from Burlingame to Edenvale to Fremont. This follows more than seven years waking at 3 am to host the daily version of KQED's California Report, broadcast on NPR affiliates throughout the state during NPR's Morning Edition. She still guest hosts for The California Report and Forum, blogs for Bay Area Bites, and files for NPR and PRI’s The World. Before KQED, she worked for Marketplace and KPCC in Los Angeles. Follow @rachaelmyrow

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