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Thursday, July 05, 2012
As members of the military stream back into a weak job market following the pullout of troops in Iraq and the reduction of forces in Afghanistan, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce is launching an initiative to help veterans find jobs and employers find the skilled workers they increasingly need as the economy improves.
The program, called “Boots to Business,” aims to educate local businesses about the wide array of skills veterans develop in the military and to expand corporate networking and mentoring opportunities for former service members. The unemployment rate of veterans who served after 9/11 is nearly 13 percent, well above the 8.2 percent national rate, according to the Labor Department.
“Talent is just critical to the growth of our economy and to the success of every business in Greater Boston,” said Jim Klocke, executive vice president at the chamber, who is overseeing the initiative. “What we have is a fantastic addition to the talent pool as veterans return to civilian life from active duty.”
The chamber’s program is part of a groundswell of employment support for veterans in recent months. In November, a federal law was enacted to award tax credits to businesses that hire veterans, and the Obama administration beefed up career services for veterans.
In Massachusetts, the Patrick administration created a task force on hiring veterans, designated $700,000 in state funds to train and employ veterans, and launched networking events for employers to share information about hiring veterans.
More than 13,000 veterans have used the state’s career centers in the past 12 months, and the number of recently discharged veterans seeking help with their job search has increased 13 percent from the previous year, according to state career services officials.
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