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Obama signs order on veterans employment

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 4:48 p.m. ET

President Obama signed an executive order on Monday establishing veterans employment offices at most federal agencies. The order comes just two days before Veterans Day and one day before the launch of a new $1 million foundation founded by a video game company to help recent military veterans find jobs.

As The Eye reported in Monday's Post, the unemployment rate among people who served in the military since 2001 was 11.6 percent in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Eighteen percent of veterans who left the military in the past one to three years were unemployed, according to a 2008 Department of Veterans Affairs employment survey.

Finding employment may be easier in the public sector, the VA study suggested, noting that military officers and service members with college degrees were more likely to work in the public sector. Approximately 480,000 veterans worked for the federal government at the end of fiscal year 2008, according to the White House.

"This initiative is about more than repaying our debt for their courageous service and selfless sacrifice," Obama said in a statement. "It’s also about continuing to fill the ranks of federal employees with men and women who possess the skills, dedication, and sense of duty that Americans deserve from their public servants. And few embody those qualities like our nation’s veterans.”

Obama's order will establish a Council on Veterans Employment, chaired by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, according to White House spokesman Nicholas Shapiro. Federal agencies will also have to establish veterans employment program offices that will help recent vets find jobs at the agency, help them assimilate into the civilian and workplace culture and make sure hiring officials know how to recruit and hire veterans.

The Office of Personnel Management will also have to draft a government-wide veterans employment plan that will include plans for a marketing campaign for federal agencies directed at recent veterans.

Veterans group will welcome the order, which comes just days after Obama signed a Defense authorization bill full of new programs designed to assist service members and recent veterans.

That 2008 VA study indicated that the private sector is not readily employing veterans, because employers said some could not quickly adapt to the profit-making world. The study acknowledged that "service members do perform their duties within tightly defined skill sets and are not working towards creating a profit" during their military tenure.

The video game company Activision Blizzard hopes to help reverse that trend and on Tuesday will announce plans to start a $1 million foundation to help veterans find employment. The maker of the popular Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk franchises says the Call of Duty Endowment (CODE) will support other groups that assist veterans with their careers and help promote the unique skills of veterans to private-sector employers. The foundation's board includes several former military leaders, including retired Army Gens. Montgomery Miegs and James "Spider" Marks.

By Ed O'Keefe  | November 9, 2009; 11:28 AM ET
Categories:  Administration, Workplace Issues  
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Maybe the reason the military have problems "adjusting" to the profit making world is because of the values they have learned well in the service - you know LOYALTY, DUTY, RESPECT, SELFLESS SERVICE, HONOR, INTEGRITY AND PERSONAL COURAGE. Over the years, I have told many retiring military personnel that the world out there doesn't understand the values we accept every day. Many return to government service because they believe in these values and cannot face a work environment where there are no values.

Posted by: ellajeannichols | November 9, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I agree with ellajeannnichols. As a former service member, I've left better paying jobs in the commercial sector to return working for the Department of Defense. I believe in the overall mission and I can sleep at night knowing that I'm not trying to reap the rewards for a fee instead of the many.

Integrity first, Service before Self and Excellence in all we do.


Posted by: ag1976 | November 9, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

@ ellajeannichols... that is somewhat true. Most good paying employers are on the hot-seat for profits. They condition their mgmt on down to play the dog-and-pony show grids and slides, all focused on profits!

When I started as a low GS worker with the IRS back in the 80's, most of my mgrs were ex-military and held those values. As I moved up thru the years and with different orgs in the fed govt, I now see a whole new breed of mgmt. Within DoD, if your husband, wife, brother, sister, cousin or neighbor is in the upper mgmt, your chances of landing one too is good! It is infested with people that have zero leadership qualities, skills and knowledge. They were decent dedicated workers, but because of their "affiliation", they are in mgmt but are clueless to what a mgr is suppose to do, or how to manage! This conditioning is passed down over and over... now you have young mgrs who think that micro-mgmt is the only way to get things done. Who have ZERO understanding of the laws and rules related to hiring, firing, personnel actions, work assignments, etc. They refuse to listen to career employees and think we are nothing but a threat... so we get black-balled... and so for many of us career employees... we are basically career stuck because of all of the nepotism and favortism plagued throughout the fed govt!

Soldiers don't want to work in those conditions! Especially if they worked in those environments as a soldier...

And for the other AF poster... the AF is about the most LAME orgs to apply as an applicant. The stupid application manager and ZERO feedback. Tear the AF apart and put it back under the US Army!

Posted by: darbyohara | November 10, 2009 7:00 AM | Report abuse

What I have issue with are programs designed for "recent vets" as is the stated mission in this program. Let's not cast off veterans of previous eras and campaigns in favor of the I&A vets.

Every veteran's service should be equally valued - period.

Posted by: bfjackjernigan | November 10, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

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