FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — To help veterans leaving the military as it downsizes, the government on Wednesday started a one-stop job-shopping website for them to create resumes, connect with employers and become part of a database for companies to mine.
First lady Michelle Obama announced the new Veterans Employment Center at Fort Campbell, Ky., during a special veterans' jobs summit, which comes as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down. Unemployment among veterans who have served since September 2001 stood at 9 percent in 2013, about 1.6 percentage points higher than the overall civilian population.
The website, ebenefits.va.gov, will help veterans and military spouses build resumes, translate military skills into private-sector skills and provide career and training data with the click of a mouse.
"It is our obligation to you," Obama told hundreds of soldiers in a hangar on the sprawling military post on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line. "Your job is to take full advantage of these opportunities."
The Army plans to reduce its fighting force from a high of about 570,000 at the peak of the Iraq war to 490,000 — a reflection of budget cuts and of the country's current military needs as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan end.
Col. David "Buck" Dellinger, the garrison commander of Fort Campbell, said about 5,000 of the 30,157 soldiers stationed at the post were in the midst of transitioning out of the Army and another 5,000 were within a year of being discharged.
"It's not going to be a career for everybody," Dellinger said.
The Obama administration's most high-profile online tool, the HealthCare.gov site designed to enroll Americans in health plans, had a disastrous rollout last fall. But administration officials said Tuesday that they have tested the veterans site to ensure it can handle the expected traffic and the various tasks.