With a little help from his friends, Mark Kirk is carrying on his work in the United States Senate.
On the same day his skull was reattached by surgeons in a Chicago hospital, Kirk was announced as one of the founders of the Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus, a bipartisan group that will help find work for the nation’s 857,000 unemployed veterans.
The announcement was made by the office of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, Kirk’s Democratic buddy. Before Kirk’s stroke, he and Manchin had planned to sit together at the State of the Union address. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., is also a founding member of the caucus.
According to the press release from Manchin’s office:
In order to directly address employment-related issues, the Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus has four objectives:
Develop a robust Senate “I Hire Veterans” program, which will invite Senators to display the “I Hire Veterans” logo if they have a veteran or a current serving member of the National Guard and Reserves on their personal, state or committee staff. The logo can be displayed in a Senate office, on business cards, or anywhere that Senators choose;
Hold monthly Member or staff-level events to share information on veterans employment initiatives;
Monitor veterans employment issues by working with constituents, government and service organizations to help provide solutions;
Work with local, state and national employers on a comparable “I Hire Veterans” program.
The jobless rate among post-9/11 veterans continues to be higher than the national average.
Women veterans have one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
Almost 20 percent of women who served in the military after September 11 are unemployed.
Kirk is the only one of the three senators who has served in the military, having been a Naval Reservist since 1989. However, West Virginia and Montana are both in the top 10 states for percentage of veterans. As an urban state with a large number of immigrants, Illinois is 46th. Only 9.5 percent of Illinoisans have served in the military.