This Veterans’ Day, let’s support our returning Iraq and Afghanistan vets with job training

Veteran’s Day is too often about paying lip service to our brave returning warriors. With two wars ongoing and thousands of veterans looking for work in an unfriendly economy, I think it’s time we did more than think good thoughts.

The Veterans Curation Program (VCP) was founded in 2009 to give thanks to the brave members of the military who kept an Army Corps of Engineers team safe for two years in Iraq.  That team of forensic archaeologists worked to convict Saddam Hussein of war crimes. They excavated mass graves in a war zone, something that had never been done before. And they couldn’t have done it without the protection of the military.

The VCP has two purposes: to help wounded veterans transition to civilian careers, and to help rehabilitate older Army Corps of Engineers archaeological collections. At three laboratories across the U.S.–in Augusta, Ga., St. Louis, Mo. and Washington, D.C.–50 veterans have learned job skills including artifact processing, digital photography, scanning, data entry, and technical report writing.

More veterans deserve to participate in this valuable program. Initial funding came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the Corps has committed to an additional year of funding. In May 2010, U.S. Representative John Barrow introduced H.R. 5282, which would make funding for the VCP permanent. While it passed the House, the bill is currently languishing in the Senate.

This Veteran’s Day, I hope you will consider calling or writing your senator to ask for the passage of H.R. 5282. Your country’s veterans are counting on you.

Paul Brockington is the founder and CEO of Brockington and Associates, which manages the Veterans Curation Program.

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