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Jobs may be the key to integrate wounded troops into civilian life, so Navy officials want more done to help transition to their post-military career.
Navy and other military officials will gather in San Diego next week for the Navy's third annual Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Conference on Oct. 29 and 30. This year's conference, open to the public, will include a career fair with more than 50 companies and federal agencies that are hiring and two days of workshops geared to employers and to wounded, ill and injured service members and disabled veterans.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have left thousands of troops wounded and disabled from improvised explosive devices and traumatic brain injuries, signature war wounds of this era.
"Our national challenge is to reintegrate these wounded warriors, and ensure that IEDs and TBI don't become the agent orange of this generation," said Juan Garcia, assistant Navy secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, who will speak during the conference. "Expert after expert tells us that the key to successful reintegration is a job. Meaningful work. Our service members are highly-skilled, well-trained professionals that can become an asset to any organization.
"Despite a willingness to hire wounded warriors, they have an unemployment rate that is nearly double the national average. It is our moral obligation to support our nation's heroes and to assist them in finding meaningful careers so that they may continue to serve our nation."
Among the nearly 9,500 veterans hired by the Department of the Navy are more than 1,600 who have disability ratings of 30 percent or higher, according to the service, which begin its Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Initiative in 2010.
Garcia's office is sponsoring the conference and workshops along with Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Air Systems Command and the Space and Naval Warfare Command. You can register and find more information for the conference at: http://www.navsea.navy.mil/WWemployment/default.aspx.