Inside the Numbers of Veteran Unemployment

Inside the Numbers

By Debbie Gregory.

When looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly Employment Situation Report for February 2014, we see that the unemployment rate for Veterans has changed little, if any, over the past year. Many economists and Veteran advocates evaluate monthly reports, and every few weeks, either praise or blame the powers that be for the monthly dips and spikes in Veteran unemployment. For example, it’s common to see a decrease in Veteran unemployment from November through January, and then a rise again in February due to seasonal employment for the holidays. So while many observers cheered in December and lowered their brows again in February, they were perhaps looking at the wrong set of data.

It is best to look at the yearly changes, in that same report. Seeing how February 2014’s statistics measured up against February 2013’s numbers can give everyone a more accurate gauge of the real picture, rather than judging against the previous month.

In the February, 2014 report, we see that the overall Veteran employment only lowered .06% from the previous year, while the national unemployment rate for non-Veterans lowered a full 1%.

The most scrutinized data is the unemployment rate for Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, referred to in the reports as “Gulf War II” Veterans. The numbers for Gulf War II Veterans are important because these are the Veterans that are currently transitioning out of the military. This statistic remains the highest for unemployment at 9.2% and remains the most stagnant, only lowering .02% since February, 2013 despite federal, state, local, and private campaigns.

Included in the Gulf War II numbers is the steady unemployment rate for Veteran men. Male Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans saw 9.0% unemployment for February, 2013 and February, 2014. This lack of change paints an unfortunate, albeit accurate, picture of the lack of change affected on our largest demographic of transitioning Gulf War II Veterans.  By comparison, non-Veterans in the same demographic saw an unemployment decrease of .08% over the year.

By contrast, female Gulf War II Veterans saw a decrease of 1.7% from 11.6% in February, 2013 to 9.9% in February 2014. While still more than three points higher than their non-Veteran peers (6.2% unemployment), the non-Veterans only decreased by 1.1% from February, 2013. So female Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan appear to be gaining ground.

As more Gulf War II Veterans earn degrees, licenses and certificates through their education benefits, we will hopefully see a major decline in Veteran unemployment, especially in the Gulf War II demographic. But for now, Veteran unemployment remains a serious concern– especially for Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

New Employment Regulations for Federal Contractors


By Debbie Gregory.

New Department of Labor regulations have gone into effect, requiring federal contractors to take measures to employ minimum numbers of protected Veteran and disabled workers. Under the new regulation, if companies that contract with the federal government don’t meet the minimum requirements for employing Veterans and disabled workers, or can’t prove that they are in the process of meeting the requirements, they could face penalties, including the revocation their contracts.

The new regulation requires that contractors must include disabled workers as at least 7% of their work force, and employ Veterans based on the national percentage of Veterans in the workforce, which is currently at 8%. Companies can also set their own benchmarks based on the best available data for their region.

The rule change is part of an ongoing effort to shrink the unemployment rate among Veterans and the disabled. This regulations change updates the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which require federal contractors to recruit, hire, train and promote qualified Veterans and people with disabilities.

The new law takes those 40 year old acts a step further by requiring standardized Veterans and the disabled hiring percentages for contractors.

Also included in the new requirements is that federal contractors survey their workforce every five years to try to determine if any of their Veteran or disabled employees have changes in status or if they require updated accommodations.

The Department of Labor’s changes are being celebrated by advocacy groups for both Veterans and the disabled.

But some contactors have voiced concerns over the changes. For example, many employers commonly believed that asking employment applicants if they were disabled was against the law. Specifically, employers felt that such questions would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. But recently, a U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. upheld that asking applicants if they are disabled for the sake of compliance with the new rule change was not a violation of the the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Employers who wish to remain in compliance with the new regulations should consider advertising their open positions on, one of the most comprehensive websites for resources and information for Veterans. For more info on posting employment opportunities and advertising on our site, please email [email protected].

White House Names 10 Women Veteran Leader Champions of Change

Champions of Change

By Debbie Gregory.

On March 25th, the White house named ten female industry leaders as “Women Veteran Leader Champions of Change.” The honor was bestowed on these ladies for their contributions to the public and community sectors of our nation’s businesses.

Female Veterans currently make up 10% of the Veteran population. By the year 2020, their percentage should rise to 12% or higher. This makes women the fastest growing Veteran demographic in the country.

As March was Women’s History Month, it was fitting that we, as a nation, recognized the accomplishments and contributions made by women, particularly female Veterans. Many of these women are responsible for removing barriers that prohibited previous generations of women from claiming leadership roles in the military. These ladies left the military to pioneer and trail-blaze paths for women in Corporate America.

Every generation of Veterans leaves the military with skills and abilities that they can use for the rest of their lives. Military lessons in teamwork, resourcefulness, dependability, leadership, justice  and attention to detail make Veterans the ideal leaders in communities and in business.

The Champions of Change program was designed to honor individuals who are taking extraordinary measures to inspire and empower other members of their communities. The  “Champions of Change” ladies honored this week were:

Erica Borggren: Director of the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs, Chicago, IL.

Martha Daniel: U.S. Navy Veteran, President and CEO of Information Management Resources, Inc., Aliso Viejo, CA

Mary Johanna Forbes; Col. U.S. Army (Ret): Assistant Director for Veteran Services for the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs, Dupont, WA.

Ellen Houlihan: Vice-Chair, Board of Directors, West Point Association of Graduates, Allen, TX

Sonia Jo Kendrick: Veteran and Founder of Feed Iowa First, Hiawatha, IA

Dana L. Niemela, MSW: Navy Veteran and Coordinator of the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, Denver, CO

Coral Wong Pietsch: Judge, United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, Honolulu, HI

Graciela Tiscareño-Sato: CEO and Founder of Gracefully Global Group LLC, Hayward, CA

Deborah Scott Thomas; Col., U.S.A.F. (Ret): Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer of Data Solutions & Technology, Inc., Edgewater, MD

Stacey Young-McCaughan, R.N., PhD; Col. U.S. Army (Ret): Director of Research for the STRONG STAR Consortium, Llano, TX

Petty Officer Mayo Remembered as a Hero


By Military Connection Staff Writer Joe Silva.

Sailors, like all military personnel, have stood watch hundreds of times, without anything of consequence occurring. One of the most tedious watches in the Navy is standing a quarter deck watch on your ship, when you are on base in your home port. Sailors spend countless hours being told to stay vigilant in case the worst should happen- having to use your weapon to defend yourself, your shipmates, and your ship. For most sailors, the worst never does happen. But when it does, all sailors  hope that we will respond as dutifully as Master at Arms Petty Officer Second Class (MA2) Mark Mayo– or pray that our shipmates will.

The USS Mahan (DDG-72) was moored at Pier One, in her homeport of Naval Station Norfolk, VA. For reasons that have not yet been discovered, using methods that have not yet been disclosed to the media, truck driver Jeffrey Savage attempted to illegally board the Mahan.

The quarter deck is the only access point on and off the ship. Watches are posted to ensure that only authorized personnel are given access to the ship. Quarter deck watches typically consists of an Officer of the Deck (E-6 – O2), a Messenger of the Watch (E1- E-4) and an armed Petty Officer of the Watch (E-4 – E-6). Ships also have one or more armed Roving Watches (or Ship’s Rover), patrolling the interior and exterior of the ship. These are not necessarily the watch standers and pay grades that were standing watch on the Mahan, but a general summation. Watches and watch stander eligibilities vary from ship to ship.

Initial reports are that the Mahan’s quarter deck watch standers on duty followed proper protocol. They observed Savage attempting to gain access to the ship, and they challenged him. A struggle ensued and somehow, Savage was able to obtain possession of the Petty Officer of the Watch’s pistol.

MA2 Mayo, who was standing Chief of the Guard, a command and control watch stander who oversees the security of the ship, observed the struggle and made his way to the quarter deck to assist. According to reports, by the time that MA2 Mayo reached the quarter deck, the Petty Officer of the Watch had already been disarmed and she had fallen to the deck. Savage had the gun pointed at her.

Mayo selflessly placed himself between the shooter and the downed petty officer. Jeffery Savage shot MA2 Mayo, killing him. Shortly afterwards, one of the armed roving watch standers shot and killed Savage. There were no other injuries reported.

MA2 Mayo’s sacrifice saved the life of the petty officer, but without knowing what Savage’s intentions and motives were, the number of lives that Petty Officer Mayo and the Mahan’s watch team saved were immeasurable.

No service member signs up to die for their country. You join to serve and succeed for your country, no matter what the cost. MA2 Mayo’s mission was to ensure the safety of his ship and his ship mates. MA2 Mayo successfully completed his mission. But in doing so, he paid the ultimate cost. He died a hero, and will forever be remembered as one.

MA2 Mark Mayo was a native of Hagerstown, MD. His awards include the Good Conduct Award, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Navy Marine Corps Overseas Ribbon.

Fair winds and following seas.