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On Veterans Day 2012, look out for new vets

Veterans Day is an inadequate national thank-you to the 22 million Americans who have served in the United States military. It's also a time to reflect on the needs of veterans who have served in its most recent wars.

More than 2.3 million military personnel served in Iraq, Afghanistan or both. Nearly 1 million of them were deployed more than once.

Returning home is not easy for veterans, who face a particularly sluggish economy.

The unemployment rate for returning veterans is 12 percent, far higher than the national average of 7.9 percent. This is a disgrace that all Americans should help correct.

Following 9/11, Congress and President Bush replaced a less lucrative package with a World War II-style benefits measure.

But perhaps the military should try to improve vocational benefits counseling as well.

The post World War II GI Bill transformed the lives of millions of veterans and their families.

By 1956, about 2.2 million World War II veterans had used the education benefits to attend colleges or universities. Another 6.6 million veterans used the benefit to attend some kind of training program.

The post-9/11 bill for veterans is generous as well.

It pays college tuition directly to the school, gives the veteran a monthly living allowance, and provides $1,000 a year for books for those who served 36 consecutive months or more. Benefits are pro-rated for shorter service.

However many for-profit colleges have preyed on these veterans - a shame many good people are trying to correct.

But veterans themselves should be wary. These are their benefits, and they can transform families lives only if they are used wisely.



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