Unemployment on veterans’ minds as Obama talks

By Danielle Nordine, Red Wing Republican Eagle

President Barack Obama returns to Minnesota this morning, 15 days after he talked in Cannon Falls, for a chat with 10,000 veterans from around the country.

The speech comes at the American Legion’s National Convention, a nearly week-long gathering at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The Legion invites the president, as commander in chief, to its gathering each year, said Dan Ludwig, a Red Wing resident and

Obama in Cannon Falls

former American Legion National Commander.

Legion members hope he talks about veteran unemployment.

“The unemployment problem is the No. 1 concern for veterans,” said Bob Davis, Goodhue County veterans service officer.

Obama has promoted a plan to give tax breaks to businesses that hire veterans. He is expected to unveil an overall jobs-creation plan after Labor Day.

Recent veterans – those serving after Sept. 11, 2001 – face a nearly 11 percent unemployment rate compared to an 8.5 percent rate for the general population, according to a congressional study released this spring.

Veterans in that group aged 18-24 face an even higher rate — nearly 20 percent across the country and almost 23 percent in Minnesota, another study showed.

Including all veterans, however, the unemployment rate drops to 7.7 percent, lower than that of civilians.

Unemployment and Veteran’s Affairs efficiency and accuracy were main points of discussion when Obama met with veterans in Cannon Falls after his town hall-style meeting on Aug. 15, Davis said.

Obama’s Minneapolis visit comes after a nine-day vacation and a weekend of supervising federal response to Hurricane Irene.

The Democratic president says that he intends to get out of Washington more often to talk to the public, especially about the economy.

His Cannon Falls stop was part of a three-day campaign-style swing through three Midwestern states. Most of his discussion centered on the economy.

Following Obama, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, both Democrats like Obama, are to speak to the convention. U.S. Rep. and GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is scheduled to speak on Thursday.

The Legion will take action on hundreds of resolutions throughout the conference, which ends Thursday.

The convention brings together delegates from all 55 Legion departments: the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, France, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

This year’s convention, which kicked off Friday, is back in Minneapolis after 15 years, revisiting the city where the first meeting took place in 1919.

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