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Hire a vet, then keep hiring them

Some young military veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have trouble getting jobs. The government has taken steps to help them. Private-sector employers should, too.

Getting a job isn’t as easy as it used to be, especially when the unemployment rate hovers near 8 percent.

For young military veterans, the search is harder. Last year, the jobless rate exceeded 20 percent for veterans between the ages of 18 and 24. For vets who are 25 to 34, unemployment was in double digits.

Government officials who have worked on the problem include Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who represents Lee, Ogle and Bureau counties.

Quinn’s latest initiative to help veterans find jobs came as an executive order issued several weeks ago. The governor ordered state agencies to assess the skills that veterans learned in the military when they apply for licenses for various civilian jobs, such as nursing and the medical field.

Quinn’s idea is to streamline the process for veterans to receive appropriate licenses, so they can get hired more quickly.

Quinn also has been talking up the Hiring Veterans Tax Credit, established last year, as an incentive to help more veterans become employed.

Veterans possess amazing skills that they acquired while defending our nation. Translating medical military skills into civilian jobs is the goal of Rep. Kinzinger’s Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act, which the House approved last week.

Kinzinger, R-11th District, and his co-sponsor, U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., wrote the bill to help states streamline their certification requirements so that military emergency medical technicians can more quickly become civilian EMTs.

Military EMTs have top-flight training and have worked in extreme battlefield conditions. Back in the U.S., some rural areas have shortages of EMTs. It makes sense to help veteran EMTs speed the transition so they can go to work at home where their skills are needed.

The Senate must now take up the Kinzinger-Capps bill. We encourage its approval.

Executive orders, tax incentives, and acts of Congress won’t be enough to solve the problem.

Private-sector employers must do their part.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a “Hiring Our Heroes” program that has helped thousands of veterans get jobs. National Chamber officials say they plan to adjust the program to focus on younger veterans. We hope that focus filters down to local businesses across the Sauk Valley.

We encourage local employers to consider the debt our communities owe to the young men and women who wore the uniforms of the Armed Forces.

Hire a vet.

Then hire some more.

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