Unemployment rises for Iraq, Afghanistan veterans

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Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said that the annual report “underscores the importance and the urgency of President Obama's initiatives to increase employment among veterans.”

The Obama administration has pushed initiatives and tax credits for hiring veterans, including those who have combat-related disabilities.

But as the overall unemployment rate decreased from 9.4 percent in 2010 to 8.7 percent in 2011, the rate still rose for recent veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The unemployment rate is highest for men ages 18 to 24. The report found 29.1 percent of veterans in that age bracket are unemployed, compared to 17.6 percent of non-veterans.

A flood of veterans are also set to re-enter the workforce as they return home from the end of the war in Iraq and the drawdown in Afghanistan. The Pentagon also plans to shed 100,000 troops over the next five years. Pentagon officials have said there will likely be some who will not be able to stay in the military when they want to re-enlist.