Our troops need jobs when they come home

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We have holidays, parades, and barbecues to celebrate those who serve. But all too often, we forget that when their service is complete, they are frequently left without a way to provide for their families.

I have organized eight job fairs during the last two years, and at each one I’ve seen veterans and service-members eagerly working the room. One young soldier near the end of his active duty drove all the way from Colorado to southern New Mexico to attend, because he heard there might be jobs available. My most recent job fair was held at White Sands Missile Range for families of service members, and we had to literally carry busloads of people from the base to job locations, so great was demand for work.

In advance of my recent visit to New Mexico National Guard troops in the Sinai, I worked with local businesses to compile a list of over fifty job openings with companies ready to hire our National Guard soldiers. The jobs were basic truck driving jobs in the oilfield, but the pay was great, $80,000 - $120,000 without ever driving more than 100 miles from home. Each time I shared a copy of the list, I was met with gasps and wide eyes. Among those in uniform, the demand for jobs is pervasive. 

Disciplined, hardworking employees are hard to find these days, but experienced employers know that’s just what they get when they hire veterans and National Guard members. Our military prepares these young men and women to be not only heroes, but exemplary workers — drug free, showing up ready to work, and always able to get the job done.  Hiring them is not only the right thing to do, but a wise investment that benefits both sides, and benefits the nation.

Job fairs and lists only scratch the surface of what is needed. Across the country, business owners, chambers of commerce, local governments, and civic groups all have a role to play in giving back to our hometown heroes. We must all come together as a community to make sure we provide jobs for those who provide our freedom.

We must never forget.

Pearce is a member of the House Financial Services Committee.