Veterans discuss defense cuts and unemployment

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) – While most veterans on Veterans Day discuss the past, a number of veterans are weighing in on present issues facing the military – including sequestration, unemployment, and care by departments like Veterans Affairs.

“When I think about it, I take a little offense to it,” Retired Army 1st Sargent James Chambliss said.

Chambliss, who served in the Army from 1975 to 1995, says he was disappointed that veterans issues were not brought up more in the presidential campaign, expressing even more concern that massive defensive cuts are still scheduled to take place at the end of this year. 

“If this happens it is definitely not going to help the employment of anybody, veterans and the like,” Chambliss said.

Henry Quinn joined the Army in 1959 and retired as a Private First Class. He is worried about young veterans struggling to find jobs.

“Set up something so when they get out of the service –  we have their back so to speak –  we got a job they can apply for and make an earnest living in,” Quinn said.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans who enlisted after 9/11 is 9.7 percent and includes veterans like Robert Skimin. 

“I still do not have a job,” Skimin, who has been out of the military since 2009, said. 

Skimin emphasized its not that veterans do not want jobs, many can not find them because of injuries sustained during combat. He says veterans need more job opportunities and better care. 

“The VA has a difficult time dealing with the massive influx of soldiers and sailors and Marines coming back,”Skimin said. “It’s understaffed and underfunded,” Skimin.

Lt. Governor Bill Bolling told CBS 6 the state has improved the quality of life for veterans over the years but added more is needed.

“Even though these are challenging economic times we need to continue to look for ways to increase funding for these programs because that’s going to make them more accessible to veterans on the front lines,” Bolling said. 

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