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

Rachael Myrow hosts the California Report for KQED. Over 17 years in public radio, she's worked for Marketplace and KPCC, filed for NPR and The World, and developed a sizable tea collection that's become the envy of the KQED newsroom. She specializes in politics, economics and history in California - but for emotional balance, she also covers food and its relationship to health and happiness.

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