- Associated Press - Friday, March 22, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. (AP) - Panther Racing through its sponsorship with the National Guard is expanding its initiative to raise awareness about unemployed veterans.

The “Operation: Hire Our Guard” program begins with the IndyCar season-opener at St. Pete, where the Panther race team will host business leaders from Florida companies and National Guard leadership for a 45-minute presentation on the issue and the benefits of hiring veterans. The program last year provided veterans exposure to approximately 9,300 job opportunities, and Panther Racing estimated 4,300 Guardsmen gained employment.

Statistics provided by the program shows that overall unemployment of Guardsmen is 13 percent and is 30 percent for veterans between 18 and 30 years old. There are an estimated 65,000 unemployed National Guard members.

Panther Racing’s outreach efforts will include at-track programs at IndyCar events and off-site and employer-outreach programs in states where IndyCar does not race.

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