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Unemployment rate soars for younger female veterans

Sunday - 11/11/2012, 11:41pm  ET

Paula Wolfson, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - For many of our newest veterans, the one thing they really want this Veterans Day is a job.

Overall, the current unemployment rate for veterans of all ages is 6.3 percent - well below the national average.

But for the youngest veterans - those who enlisted after the September 11 terror attacks - the rate is just under 10 percent.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says that number - 9.7 percent - must be taken in a broader context. The VA says the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans used to be much worse and over the course of the last year has begun a slow but definite decline.

But there is a hidden number that is alarming. Unemployment among young female veterans is soaring, and now stands at 19.9 percent. That's more than double the rate for both genders.

With the ranks of young women in the military increasing, this has become a matter of growing concern.

Veterans groups have their own theories why so many returning service women are having such a tough time finding work.

Some say a big problem is that many of these female vets have children, and after long deployments abroad are looking for jobs that allow them to combine parenthood and work.

Women comprise about 15 percent of the U.S. military, according to American Women Veterans, a foundation that works to improve the lives of women veterans and their families.

The group's founder, Genevieve Chase, says the American public still doesn't quite understand the roles women fill in the military overseas, and how to treat these new veterans when they come home.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)