WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is trying to reassure U.S. soldiers, a group hard hit by high unemployment, that the Fed is working to strengthen the economy.
Bernanke says the Fed is trying to lower unemployment by keeping short-term rates near zero and buying securities to try and lower longer-term rates.
Many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are returning home to find few jobs and limited prospects. The unemployment rate for veterans of those wars 12.1 percent in October. That's up from 10.6 percent a year ago and well above the national average of 9 percent.
Bernanke says: "I'm here because the men and women in military service, like all Americans, are profoundly affected by the economic challenges our nation has faced these past several years."
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