Unemployment Rate High for Returning Guardsmen

The Defense Department estimates that 20 percent of National Guard airmen and soldiers have no civilian jobs when they return from service in Southwest Asia, Gen. Craig McKinley, National Guard Bureau chief, told the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel last week. That unemployment rate “remains much higher than the national non-veteran rate,” said McKinley. Accordingly, the Guard leadership “remains deeply concerned,” he said. “[Guardsmen] are our most important asset and their well-being and retention are essential for the National Guard as an operational force,” he said. The NGB is doing what it can to help Guardsmen find employment. For example, the Guard’s Program Support Specialist initiative now includes employment facilitation. Last year, McKinley said, PSS officials participated in more than 1,000 “yellow ribbon reintegration” events nationwide, supporting returning units by identifying employment opportunities. (McKinley’s prepared testimony)