The Next Battle on the Horizon for Returning Veterans – Finding a Job

Recent statistics show the job market in this country has been steadily improving, except for one select group of people – veterans.  In fact, the veterans unemployment percentage actually increased during the time when other unemployment figures decreased.

On average, the unemployment rate in 2011 for veterans who served between September 11, 2001 to the end of 2011 was 12.1%. In 2010, the average unemployment rate for the year was 11.5%. By comparison, the unemployment rate for non-veterans was 8.7% in 2011 and 9.4% in 2010.

And the numbers are even worse for veterans in the 18 to 24-year-old range. Their unemployment rate was 30.2% percent in 2011, compared to 25 to 34-year-old veterans at 13%.

Experts theorize that young veterans have a higher unemployment rate due specifically to their military service, as their non-military counterparts were already going to college, or a trade school, and were networking in their career field of choice.

For some veterans, the skills they learned in the military transfer over to the civilian workplace, but in many other cases, they don’t. For those whose skills do not transfer, they may need to use their Post 9/11 GI Bill to further their education in their chosen career field, or if already trained, get the certification or license they needed to compete with other job hunters. Also, many veterans have trouble trying to translate their skills and experiences properly on their resumes. If you fall under this category, hire an experienced military-to-civilian resume writer. It will be one of the best investments that you can make for your career.

Private groups, government agencies and some elected officials have been working hard to create programs and processes that make it easier for veterans to get jobs. However, the problem may get worse before it gets better as more troops return from war and the military scales back.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis recently said in statement that, “Our veterans have made sacrifices on behalf of the nation, and I ask all employers to renew their commitment to veterans, because the best way to honor our veterans is to employ them. No veteran should have to fight for a job at home after fighting to protect our nation.” While it may garner support, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

5 thoughts on “The Next Battle on the Horizon for Returning Veterans – Finding a Job”

  1. John G. Vandal

    I would like to comment on this post for just a moment. I am a retired/90% disabled Vet. I have been retired for almost two years now. I used to be an Aviation Structural/Hydraulic Mechanic with a background in Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) / Hazardous Material and Waste Management (HAZMAT). I worked OSH for the last five years in the Navy. The Navy sent me to school to perform those jobs also. So… here I sit with specialized civilian training and experience with no job.

    I have spent extensive time developing numerous resumes with people that worked in human resources. I submit them at different levels of local, state and federal jobs. I have been commended on how my resume looks however; I cannot even get my preverbal foot in the door for an interview. If I do get a reply on why I was not selected for an interview, it was the lack of a degree. For a moment, I would like to address this. Eleven years of hands on experience as a HAZMAT specialist and five years of hands on experience working as an OSH inspector, they still want a piece of paper stating that I spent a lot of money for an education. I would love to find out how much the Navy spent for my specialized training.

    I attend the advertised Vet job fairs only to find places like McDonalds and Stop and Shop looking for people to flip burgers and bag groceries. I think if the Vets wanted to get a job a McDonalds or Stop and Shop, they would just apply at the establishment. As I look at that, I wonder if the person that organized the job fair, knows how degrading that is.

    The 9/11 bill is a great program. Since I cannot even buy a job, I went back to school to get that piece of paper. It has actually saved me from being homeless. I enjoy school however, some of the courses that I have to take, I took in the Navy. I could not get any credits for twenty years of service. So…. here we go again.

    I recently met a Vet in my college that was returning to the civilian community with two tours in Iraq. He was infantry and had little to no schooling other than field stripping a rifle. He works in a coffee shop full time making minimum wage just to survive. If it was not for his 9/11 bill and disability of 30% he would be homeless. These kinds of people are coming back now. They do not have extensive training like I do. So how can you put on a resume that you have twenty three confirmed kills? Or better yet, field stripping a rifle in a minute and a half?

    I am still waiting for those officials to make it easier to get a job. I know that I am competing with the many civilians out there that are still unemployed. I have been on many websites trying to get a job. Some are easy and some are darn right painful. So I ask the “Officials”, What can you do to help me?

    John G. Vandal
    AM1(AW) US Navy (Ret)

    1. Hi John. Yes it is sad to see veterans who literally put their line on the line multiple times, come back and have to take menial low-paying jobs. As I stated in my article, the jobless rate overall for veterans is about 12% – it is even worse for the younger vterans, 30%.

      Maybe some of the new programs such as Vet Success and VOW will help employ more or our heros coming home. However, the competition will continue to increase as the drawdown in Afghanistan starts kicking in.

  2. John,
    There are schools out there that WILL consider your service education toward a degree. I have an Associates of Science degree from the University of New York ( that accepted most of my schooling in the Navy. I did have to take some courses in a “bricks and mortar” school but those were minimized. You may want to explore that possibility. I may be attending a school in CT, Three Rivers College and I believe they too have a program to accept service school for credit.
    Wish you the best,
    Craig Harwood

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