No matter where you stand on the whole episode of the U.S. invading Iraq, the idea of our National Guard volunteers coming home to unemployment is outrageous.

There were those who were unemployed when they deployed, and that they have come home to that status again is troubling. But for those who lost their jobs because they served their commitment to the Guard, this country and those employers should be ashamed.

There is a federal law that protects the jobs of Guard members during active duty call up, but the law is so full of loop holes it must have been written by the IRS.

Everyone could see the need for small companies to fill critical jobs - like a small printing company with only one person doing a technical job essential to the business.

But 40 percent unemployment for returning Guard members clearly does not reflect such isolated situations.

As has happened so often in the late 20th Century, wars that drag out in far away places drop off the daily consciousness of many Americans. Iraq has become another of those wars. Afghanistan was off the radar of most Americans before the first tanks reached Baghdad.

But this war, like those before it, are a part of every day and sleepless night for the families of those in uniform. This time, because of the modern "volunteer" military approach, our Guard and Reserve troops have been called up more freely and kept on scene much longer than ever before.

The resulting damage to the families left at home is multiplied as a result, and then comes the slap in the face when the veteran comes back to find himself out of work.

Gov. Kulongoski realizes that while the federal government has created this mess, the Guard is a state's responsibility. He also recognizes that Oregon has sent more Guard troops per capita than many states, and it is his returning troops facing 40 percent unemployment.

He has called on businesses to "hire a vet."

In the meantime, all of us need to pressure the federal government to make tax incentives available to businesses who do, in fact, hire returning soldiers and train them to be as successful in civilian life as they have been in representing the best of this nation abroad.

If the administration and Congress cannot deal with this effectively and in a timely manner, then the invasion of Iraq will become just another unfunded federal mandate, and that's a far cry from the homecoming these troops deserve.

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