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Reality Check: What’s It Really Like For Veterans In MN?

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of Minnesota veterans return home from combat duty every year. But when they get here, it’s sometimes tough to get a job.

That’s only one of the struggles veterans face. Finding a job, getting health care services, fighting homelessness.

1. Employment

In 2011, Minnesota led the country in veteran unemployment — a shocking 23 percent.

Today, the number’s almost cut in half, but it’s still still high — 12.1 percent, according to the U.S. Senate Joint Economic Council.

That’s ninth highest in the country, and nearly triple the Minnesota’s unemployment rate of 5.1 percent.

There’s a rush to bring those numbers down for veterans.

“When they signed up to serve, there wasn’t a waiting line,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, who is co-chair of the Council. “And when they come home to the United States of America and they need a job or health care or they need someone to talk to, we’ve got to be there for them.”

Minnesota’s military unemployment is down, in part, because of a $9,600 a year tax credit to business for every returning vet they hire — a tax credit that expires at the end of the year.

2. The number of military suicides nationally is getting better, but it still exceeds combat deaths.

In 2012, there were 349 active duty suicides, compared to 295 combat deaths in Afghanistan.

So far, in 2013, there were 115 potential active duty suicides, compared with 106 combat deaths.

3. The number of homeless veterans is getting better, but it’s still not good.

Minnesota’s Wilder Foundation documents a downward trend — 580 veterans in Minnesota during 2012 were homeless for more than a year. That’s down from 669 in 2009.

Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check:
Minnesota Veterans Population
US Dept of Veterans Affairs
US Casualties in Afghanistan

Potential Active Duty Suicides
US Dept. of Defense
Veteran Hiring Federal Tax Credit

Long-Term Veteran Unemployment
US Senate Joint Economic Council
MN Dept. of Veterans Affairs

US Census Bureau
Veteran Quick Facts

MN Wilder Foundation Report
Homelessness and Veterans

Minnesota Unemployment Rate
MN Dept. of Employment, Economic Development

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