A new report takes a look at troops returning home to Illinois. The report by the Heartland Alliance shows troops returning home to Illinois from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan represent a new kind of veteran: they are younger than the majority of veterans in Illinois, there are more female service members than ever before, they face high rates of unemployment, and they suffer unique physical and mental wounds.
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Lindy Carrow, a research associate with the Social Impact Research Center of Heartland Alliance, says the report offers a blueprint to help service providers, employers, education leaders, elected officials, religious leaders, and philanthropic organizations adopt new strategies to support veterans’ reintegration to civilian life.
The report recommends communities should develop a coordinated and adequately-supported system of services to meet veterans’ needs.
A snapshot of the report’s findings:
Numbers: 76,000 new veterans in Illinois.
Age: 78 percent are in their 30s or younger.
Employment: Illinois had the fourth highest unemployment rate of all states for new veterans in 2010, at 13 percent.
Sex: Women comprise 17 percent of new veterans, more than ever before. A higher percentage of female veterans (18 percent) are not in the labor force compared to male veterans (11 percent). Nearly half of female veterans (47 percent) with children are raising them alone, nearly twice the rate of male veterans (25 percent).
Physical Wounds & Mental Health: 26 percent of veterans who were deployed since the terrorist attacks of 2001 were deployed more than once, leaving them more vulnerable to invisible wounds such as traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder or both.
Income: 46 percent earn less than $30,000 annually.
Education: 67 percent have a high school diploma, and 22 percent have a college or professional degree.
Military Experience: The majority served in the Army, followed by the Air Force. The top three Army occupations were logistics, infantry, and medical, and the top two Air Force occupations were support, and maintenance.