Veterans Unemployment

America’s veterans put their lives on the line to defend our freedom, and when they return, we often celebrate their courage and heroic efforts with extravagant pomp and circumstance.  But despite the praise and honor of their achievements, our nation’s vets often fall prey to unemployment and poverty. CNBC reports that military unemployment rates often exceed the national average. For many, the very war that made them a veteran is a key factor in their unemployment. Misinformation and discriminatory hiring practices abound, denying veterans the opportunity to secure steady work – often leading to homelessness and poverty. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 12% of the homeless adult population are veterans.

     One significant contributor to their predicament is the stigma associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Despite a PTSD rate of only 7%, the fear of PTSD’s effects on the workplace has mistakenly influenced many hiring decisions. Employers fear that veterans will be mentally unstable and disrupt the workplace, and fear the cost of accommodating these vets. However, this is rarely an issue.  Other similar obstacles include a lack of understanding how military skill sets translate to the civilian workplace and employers’ fear of future deployments.

     Additionally, for those vets who successfully secure employment, their longevity in the job isn’t guaranteed. According to CNBC, the Veterans Job Retention Survey reported that more than 43 percent of the respondents only kept their first post-military job for 12 months or less. One option that many vets may need to consider is entrepreneurship. Such options are described in Jason Anderson’s “Active Duty Entrepreneur,” which outlines an innovative approach for military service members interested in starting a small business.

     Other options available are veteran support organizations, such as OperationMCP, which provides skill assessments, resume writing assistance, and interview preparation for transitioning veterans. This non-profit organization helps alleviate the challenge of translating military work experience into a civilian lexicon, and ensures that a veteran’s resume is intelligible by civilian hiring authorities.

     Such efforts by Jason Anderson and OperationMCP have led to increased awareness of veteran unemployment. The Department of Defense previously announced that the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans dropped to 5.8 percent in 2015; although this does not include veterans from other wars, such as Vietnam and the Gulf War. The department attributed that low rate to skills-based training and a concerted effort to hire veterans in both the public and private sectors. To assist, 15 companies (including Amazon, Microsoft, and Siemens) will be training over 60,000 veterans and their spouses for careers in technology, aerospace, and telecommunications.

     Regardless of such improvements, even a single unemployed veteran is too many. If you’d like to get involved, consider donating to OperationMCP. If you’re a transitioning veteran, take a look at Jason Anderson’s book about becoming an Active Duty Entrepreneur, and have your resume evaluated for free by OperationMCP’s founder, Daniela Petrilli. Together we can ensure that our returning veterans are able to secure steady employment when the pomp and circumstance have faded.