The Department of Defense announced April 5 that a total of 36,082 members of the U.S. military had been wounded in action or killed in Iraq since the war began in 2003. Of these, nearly 4,500 were deaths and 31,950 were wounded.
Once they return from the war zone, injured soldiers face a multitude of physical, emotional and professional challenges, the least of which is a startlingly high unemployment rate. In 2005, the jobless rate for veterans between ages 20 and 24 was 15.6 percent, more than triple the national unemployment rate of 5.1 percent, and a number that skyrockets for the injured.
Carl Stevenson, coordinator of a training program at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington that helps injured soldiers at Walter Reed get back on their feet, said he has seen this unfolding firsthand. "When they’re discharged, they’ve got the VA [Department of Veterans Affairs] on one side of them and the Department of Labor on the other and they’re stuck in the middle. Some fell through the cracks. I wanted to know what we could do to help," Stevenson said.
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