As President Nixon gradually withdrew increasing numbers of troops from Vietnam in the course of his first term, he became aware of the unique problems of civilian reintegration faced by Vietnam-era veterans. One of the most serious obstacles faced by veterans upon returning to civilian life was unemployment. President Nixon recognized the gravity of this situation and on 13 June 1971 he wrote a letter to the Secretary of Labor in which he expressed his concern for veterans plagued by unemployment:
As you know, I am greatly concerned at any denial of civilian job opportunities to these young men who have borne the burden of fighting. I am also deeply concerned at the evidence that the most serious problem is experienced by those with educational deficiencies or other disabilities.
The body of the letter details a set of tasks and goals proposed by the President for the amelioration of veteran employment opportunities, such as increases in job counseling and job training for returning veterans. The President additionally provided the Secretary with the power and resources necessary to accomplish his goals, encouraging the Department of Labor to cooperate and to interact with the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in order to put an end to veteran unemployment. The resources that RN allocated to this project and the hope he had for its efficacy demonstrated the strength of his commitment to improving the post-war lives of Vietnam-era veterans.
Because of the importance of this entire effort, I ask that you make bi-weekly progress reports to me… I know that I can count on your full energies and the support of all Government agencies in this vital national effort to provide the returning veteran what he has earned–a smooth transition to civilian life and meaningful work.