When you think of the brave men and women who valiantly serve our country, it is hard to imagine anything but a joyous, prosperous return for them upon completion of their service. You would imagine that they would come back, be able to use the Post 9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program to earn, or finish earning their college educations and find jobs fairly easily, but for many, that is simply not the reality. An unemployed veteran is not an anomaly; in fact, during the recent recession, veterans and unemployment are sadly words that you’ll often here in the same sentence.
Worse yet, veterans unemployment rates are rising relatively rapidly. Instead of there being plenty of jobs for veterans, many service members come home to an extremely difficult time of attempting to find employment. Even though there are many companies who would be interested in hiring them, employment for veterans remains limited, as it is for the rest of the country’s non-military citizens. For most veterans, job search efforts end in disappointment, with unemployed veterans quickly becoming the norm, and at a frightening rate.
Veterans Unemployment Statistics
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2010, young male veterans, ages 18 to 24, who served during the Gulf War II era, including those who have served at any time since September 2001, had an unemployment rate of 21.9 percent (significantly higher than the national average- at nearly double the rate).
The veterans unemployment rate is on a steady incline and has even risen noticeably since 2010. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of unemployment for military veterans increased from 11.5% in June 2010 to 13.3% in June 2011.
These rates are not expected to decline any time soon either. They could potentially rise even further in upcoming months as more troops return from overseas, especially if our overall economy continues to sputter.
President Obama announced plans last month to pull 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year and a total of 33,000 by September 2012, meaning that we will need to see significant job creation to provide good jobs for each of our returning service members.
To add to the problem, there were roughly 200,000 more veterans in the labor force this June than there were a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Veterans and citizens alike are hesitant to imagine what the future holds for the veteran job search, but suffice it to say we hope that the situation improves markedly.
Helping Veterans Find Jobs
Is anyone doing anything to help veterans find jobs? Fortunately, yes!
While the effort to employ every Veteran may be futile, and the results of some of these campaigns may be minimal, there are many Hire-A-Vet job fairs happening across the country, as well as efforts from individual organizations.
One such organization, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) has unveiled a comprehensive plan for assisting veterans in finding post-service jobs. The IAVA plans to help create jobs for veterans by teaching new job-seeking skills, providing improved education benefits, defending against job discrimination and working with community and corporate leaders to help create an environment in which companies want to hire veterans.
By increasing the number of veteran friendly employers, the unemployment rate for veterans could potentially decline over time, which would be a welcome change to current trends. Realizing the need for a dramatic solution, multiple organizations have recently called for a Presidential summit to be held on the hiring of veterans, which they claim could help improve the situation by capturing the attention of corporate leaders, nonprofit groups, and the American public.
What are your thoughts on the discouraging veteran unemployment rates? What do you think could be done to improve the situation?