Challenges for Veteran Employment
By Debbie Gregory.
There are hundreds of companies that promote hiring Veterans. Some companies are even going out of their to specifically recruit Veterans for their company. And there is an unemployment rate of over 9% among Global War on Terror Veterans. You would think that open jobs and an unemployed labor force would cancel each other out. So why aren’t they?
Part of the reason can be found in the quality of jobs available. The majority of Veterans looking for employment served a minimum of four years. They saw the military as a stepping stone on their path to a more lucrative future. Vets don’t want to take off their military uniform with their last name sewed onto a patch only to put on another uniform that has their first name printed on a badge. Many Vets view food service, retail and customer service jobs as a step backward in their grand plan for their lives. And let’s be honest, with the amount of money and hours that the government spent to train them in technical studies, leadership and administration, Veterans and their talents would be wasted in those fields. Many former military that take these jobs do so out of absolute necessity, or because they don’t know what else to expect from the job market.
Given the fact that military training and experience doesn’t laterally transfer into the civilian world, many Vets feel that they are not qualified for many corporate and industrial jobs that require a specified amount of job-related experience. So, when browsing job search engines and seeing that they don’t meet the posted basic qualifications, Vets usually click out of that posting and move on. This, in spite of the fact that they may actually be a perfect fit for that job. Many of the middle-ranking enlisted Veterans who held leadership and supervisory roles in the military are having the hardest time finding employment matching their level of knowledge and skill. Veterans should research positions in their desired field and learn how to equate and relay their training and experience in such a way that a hiring manager would find it sufficient to hire them. This is where a good skills translator can come in very useful. Also, if companies are truly interested in helping Veterans, they would research military training and write their job postings accordingly. Just imagine what the hiring process would be like if Vets could read a civilian job posting that included military pay-grade, job specialties, trainings and qualifications listed as basic requirements.
There are many more reasons why the Veteran unemployment rate is almost two percent above the civilian rate. I feel the need to point out one more that is often overlooked. There are hundreds of thousands of Veterans utilizing the Post-9/11 GI Bill to go back to school. This GI Bill pays up to 100% of tuition, a stipend for books and supplies, and offers the Veteran student a monthly allowance for housing. This education benefit is designed to allow the user to attend school and not have to work, so that the Vet can focus on their studies. The current unemployment tallies may not reflect how many Veterans are unemployed due to the utilization of education benefits.
Today’s Veterans are a hard-working, dedicated bunch of patriots who voluntarily chose to serve their country. They have been the leaders and valued resources for our armed services through more than twelve straight years of war. Given the right valuation and opportunity, Veterans would be considered for positions as leaders and valued resources for our businesses.