Senate committee holds hearing on veteran unemployment

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

Sparta, Wis (WEAU)- Our men and women who serve this country have some of the highest unemployment rates after they’re done with their service.

The issue of unemployment among military veterans was discussed in front of the Senate Committee on Economic Development at the American Legion in Sparta, on Thursday. The meeting was to give Wisconsin Representatives ideas on how the state can help.

According American Legion Employment Chair Bruce Market, 14-25% of returning veterans are unemployed. 20-40% of disabled veterans are unemployed.

Vietnam veteran Mike Furgal attended the informational meeting as Wisconsin Legislative Chair for Veterans in Foreign Wars. After his service, Furgal was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. He knows first hand how hard it is for disabled veterans to find a job.

“People look at a veteran coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and say 'this guy’s going to go crazy on me. I’m not going to hire him.' When I retired from the marine corp. in 1981 I was unemployed for 18 months, and I was looking for any type of job. I have a master’s degree and I had teaching experience, and I couldn’t find a job,” said Furgal.

Some of the proposals presented in front of the committee asked for more accommodations to spouses of veterans, and also getting more state agency jobs for disabled veterans.

One man, Greg Meier presented a solution to the veteran unemployment problem. Meier is the Co-Founder of Vetransfer, a company that specializes in helping other veterans learn how to start their own businesses.

“We teach them modern 21st century techniques and provide support with mentors and advisors as they develop their businesses,” said Meier.

The representatives will take the information that they gather from the meeting and bring it to their next legislative meeting.

Representative Jennifer Shilling was one of the Senate members to attend the meeting along with, Tim Carpenter, Amy Sue Vruwink, and Julie Lassa.

“We want to make sure that we continue to be a veteran friendly state. We have a lot of broad benefits to assist them with. We have home ownership benefits, tuition assistance, and health care benefits as well. We need to continue with that commitment after they have served our country,” said Shilling

Last year a tax credit with incentives was passed through legislation for employers who hire veterans with disabilities. Since then the number of unemployed disabled veterans remains high. Furgal was at the meeting to share his opinion on the matter.

“There are laws in place right now that are wonderful laws but they are not being enforced,” said Furgal.

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