By Supervisor Bill Horn
The history of Veterans Day dates back to Armistice Day and the end of World War I. To observe what we now know as Veterans Day, President Woodrow Wilson said Americans should “be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.” Those words still ring true. I’m filled with deep admiration knowing we are blessed with the best military in the history of the world.
With the election behind us, it is time to focus on our future. I am concerned about pending fiscal cliffs and with possible sequestration, the weakening of our military. Here are my primary concerns as North County Supervisor: 1) that our troops come home safely, 2) they’re ready to re-enter society as civilians, and 3) they’re properly trained to get well-paying jobs in high demand.
Earlier this year, the San Diego North Economic Development Council completed a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for North County and found that 54,000 veterans live in North County and nearly 250,000 live in San Diego County. While men and women on active duty are employed; veterans, particularly those aged 18-24, face an unemployment rate as high as 21%.
Yes, the economy has been bad—North County lost 10,574 jobs from 2007-2012—but that can’t be an excuse. We need to equip veterans with tools to get the jobs of the future. In the September issue of USA Today, San Diego was ranked sixth in the nation for start-up tech companies. That’s exciting news, but those companies don’t hand out high-tech jobs like MREs (meals ready to eat); they require specialized training.
According to the CEDS study and Prosperity on Purpose, some of the high-tech jobs projected to grow over the next five years in North County include chemical manufacturing (15% growth rate), medical equipment/supplies manufacturing (11%), healthcare/social assistance (9%), and professional/scientific/technical services (9%). Innovation and specialized manufacturing averages an annual salary of $93,000. (For more information about the CEDS study and Prosperity on Purpose, please visit my website at www.billhorn.com/ceds.)
These are the jobs in supply, but are they the jobs veterans demand? In the next few months, I will work with the San Diego North EDC and organizations like the National Veterans Transition Services, Inc. (NVTSI) to find out. It’s a non-profit that helps veterans in transition; sort of a boot camp for civilian life back home. REBOOT, as it’s known, has been successful in connecting veterans with sustained and meaningful employment.
A year ago, I hosted a veterans conference to evaluate what the County is doing for veterans and where we can improve. Expanding proven veterans services into the North County is one of the best gifts we can give to veterans on Veterans Day. May God bless them and may God bless the United States of America.
Bill Horn represents District 5 on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.