By Military Connection Staff Writer Joe Silva.
Part 1 of Veteran Employment Series
Every year, approximately 200,000 military service members separate from the armed forces. More than half of this population of former officers and enlisted service members consists of men and women between the ages of 25 and 34. These able-bodied Americans currently rank among the highest in the nation’s unemployment percentage. As of December, 2013, the unemployment rate for Veterans in this age range was at 9.9%. By comparison, the non-veteran percentage rate for the same age range was at 8.2%.
What I found more alarming is that the current unemployment rate for Veterans aged 18 to 24 is at 20.4%, compared to only 15% for non-Veterans of the same age. As a Veteran, I find it difficult to understand why. Economists say that our economy is struggling, and that jobs are hard to come by. I get that, but if that were the case, then the above unemployment percentages should be closer together. There should not be gaps of nearly two and over five percent for the same age ranges that disfavor Veterans. There has to be an explanation for the consistently higher levels of Veteran unemployment rates.
One possible reason for the elevated Veteran unemployment rate is the fact that thousands of Veterans choose to use their Post-9/11GI Bill. But having used the GI Bill myself, I find it hard to believe that the majority of these Veterans are not also working in some capacity while they attend school. Most Veteran students that I know, including myself, worked at least part time while they used their GI Bill. While the number of Veterans using their GI Bill does affect the unemployment rate, it shouldn’t be causing the large gap that constantly remains between Veteran and non-Veteran unemployment percentages.
The straightforward explanation for the higher Veteran unemployment rate is that businesses are just not hiring Veterans. I am not placing 100% of the blame on the employers for this. I think it would be detrimental to the economy if employers hired Veterans just because they used to wear a uniform. Hiring managers have the right to employ people who they feel are the most qualified to work for them. But I can’t see how Veterans are consistently less qualified than their civilian counter-parts.
As someone who served, I am quick to point out that completing boot camp does not make someone perfect. With that said, the military indoctrinates into its ranks many vital fundamentals that should be highly desirable to anyone looking to add effective leaders and subordinate personnel to their workforce. I believe that what is obstructing employers from hiring Veterans is their inability to see the value of military training and work experience. I have written several articles advocating for the need to educate employers about ways to acknowledge military work experience during their hiring processes.
Along with employers needing to learn the value of the military as previous employment experience, Veteran job seekers also need to be able to translate their military credentials into tangible qualifications that employers can’t help but hire.
As a Veteran who has experience in this less-than-desirable job market, I will continue to write articles on Veteran jobs, with the focus on how Veterans can use the skills and resources they already have to land the job they deserve.