MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota honored its veterans with a special state program Tuesday in Inver Grove Heights.
State military leaders honored Minnesota’s 370,000 veterans, including 26,000 who were deployed for extended periods of time after 9/11.
The state’s top military officer said today’s Minnesota service men and women are fighting terrorism and pestilence.
“This includes threats as diverse as fighting Ebola in West Africa, and ISIS in Syria and Iraq”, Major General Richard Nash, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard, said.
A dozen Minnesota young people took the military service oath during Minnesota’s Veterans Day ceremony.
Volunteering to join, what one of them called, “the brotherhood.”
“I am lucky to be here,” Mitch Fitzgerald of South St. Paul said. “I just want to give back to our country.”
Amid continuing challenges for veterans, there is some good news. Veteran unemployment in Minnesota is going down.
A new report from the U.S. Senate Joint Economic Committee shows veteran unemployment in Minnesota dropped significantly in the last year. It went down from 8.8 percent in 2013, to 5 percent in 2014.
The number of unemployed post-9/11 vets is still high but also dropping, from 14.1 percent in 2013 to 8.8 percent in 2014.
Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar says it’s deliberate, slow progress.
“They basically give up their jobs to serve our country,” Klobuchar said. “And when they come home there should be a job for them. That’s why we know more work needs to be done. But for the first time this year we have seen some dramatic changes over four years ago.”
Sen. Klobuchar says part of the unemployment drop is the improving economy, which is creating jobs.
But a big part of it is a special businesses focused on hiring veterans, including Minnesota’s Yellow Ribbon program, which helps match veterans with jobs.