Vets Out of Work: Numbers are Up But Prospects are Good

veteran"Thanks for serving -- sorry we don't have anything for you."

That's the message more and more recently returned veterans are receiving from employers these days when they apply for jobs. The unemployment rate for veterans ages 18-24 last month was 21.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- more than double the national average (9.7 percent).

The number of veterans in the United States is an astounding 22.2 million. Upward of 1.9 million have been deployed since 9/11.

"More than than 220,000 military members complete their service obligations or retire every year, and just about all of them are looking for a civilian job," says Lisa Rosser, a veteran herself who has started The Value Of a Veteran, a consulting service that specializes in educating human resource professionals on the best practices for finding, recruiting, and retaining military service members.

"Many employers do see the value of veterans in the workplace as it relates to their loyalty, integrity, and work ethic," says Melanie Gutermuth, a 25-year-old veteran who served in the Army for four years and has been searching for a job in the Washington, D.C., area for about 12 months. But, she adds, "There seems to be the notion among some people that veterans are overly troubled, medication-reliant people, and therefore not as stable or reliable. Not all veterans are impaired by their experiences."

The Challenges

No one can be completely prepared for a physical, mental or emotional injury, and about 21 percent of those coming home from serving after 9/11 report having a service-connected disability. However, notes Gutermuth, these vets "have a wide variety of military and VA services available to them to help them rehabilitate and successfully return to the workplace. As a result, veterans are often some of the most innovative and dedicated members of a work team."

Still, vets face many unanticipated employment obstacles. Some employers fear service members might be deployed again after being trained and starting the job. And then there's the sad fact that while they were overseas serving their country, back in the United States, jobs were being cut en masse. Veterans are coming home to one of the worst employment environments in this country's history.

Gutermuth says she's had "quite a difficult time finding and maintaining a (full-time) job," although she's worked seasonal and temporary jobs. "Something that has been a burden for me, and for many other veterans I know, is that when filing for VA services and benefits after discharge, there are often a lot of medical appointments to attend. The VA does not schedule at your convenience; you must take what you are given, and they usually take all day. When you are a young new employee constantly having to take days off of work, it reflects negatively on your work performance. There is new legislation that is supposed to protect against this, but it is too new to see it in practice yet."

The Solutions

So, what should a job-seeking veteran do to improve his or her chances of landing a job?

Know how military skills apply: "One of the obstacles many veterans face when they reintegrate back into the civilian job force is the ability to translate the skills they've acquired in the military into a non-military job," says Kathie Scarrah, deputy director of the Army Reserve Employer Partnership Office. She says that both veterans and employers need to recognize that commanding a unit of soldiers on the battlefield in Iraq employed skills that a project manager in the civilian work force uses. Whether you're under fire in the field or in the board room, service members bring strategic thinking, leadership, dedication and skills to the table. Veterans would do well to stress that in interviews and on applications, Scarrah advises.

Start your own business: Jim Wilson, a business attorney and veteran who advises vets to start a business or buy a franchise, says, "Veterans generally have some great characteristics that will help them be successful as business owners, but they often do not have some basic business skills for running a business. Veterans also have to deal with having achieved at a certain level that takes time to translate to the civilian business world. This can be frustrating, but it can be avoided by taking charge and starting a business or buying a franchise." He mentions that with loans and grants available these days, the timing could be perfect. [See Veterans: Tired of Taking Orders? Start a Business.]

Seek out helpful organizations: For those who are not quite prepared for or in a position to start their own business, there are a number of organizations that train and assist veterans in finding a job. One such organization is the Veterans in Piping Program, a partnership between the U.S. military and the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Sprinklerfitters. The program starts with two weeks of transitional training to help returning veterans adjust to civilian life. They then take16 weeks of accelerated welding training at one of 30 training facilities throughout the United States. Best of all, it's free to veterans -- and when they finish the training, there are networking specialists that help them with job placement. More than 1,000 veterans are already members of organization.

"The success rate is 100 percent placement of participants who graduate, complete required certifications, and commit to placement," says Mark McLaughlin, a communications specialist who works with the VIP program and the Air Conditioning Technical Center in Miami. "They have a very detailed entrance examination, which helps to explain why their program is doing so well, placement-wise. It takes a person with a lot of discipline, dedication, ambition, and willingness to learn to succeed in this program. The VIPs already have been through the military, so they already have those qualities – especially discipline."

Although Gutermuth remains unemployed full-time, she's still hopeful. "It is important to maintain the values and work ethic learned in the military. But it is equally important to strike a balance and learn who you are as an individual outside of the uniform," she advises.

Next: How Volunteering Landed Me a Job >>

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This is FRAUD at the highest levels. She is getting 33K a year, for life,,,cuz she is a dirtbag hoe who lied to everyone about her service,,,she's a nasty little bitch hoe ****. She ***** herself. Who in the hell signed off on this stupid ****. Who justified this bitch getting 100% disabled,,,,she is a **** bird!!! There are other vets out there that truly deserve to be 100% not this ****

September 03 2012 at 6:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She's a freakn fake!! How in the hell she got 100% disabled for only serving 4+ months,,,she's a ******** joke!!!!

September 03 2012 at 6:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She's a poser. All Fake.

March 31 2011 at 2:10 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Shes a poser. All of it is fake bs.

March 31 2011 at 2:09 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Shes a poser. All of it is fake bs.

March 31 2011 at 2:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I served for 8 years, came home, had a good job for a couple years, but then 2 years ago I was laid off. I have applied to thousands of jobs since then and I have only made it to the interview process twice. Let's face it, when an HR recruiter sees military service on a resume, it goes to the bottom of the pile if it doesn't wind up in the trash can. Us Vets have a rep as violent sociopaths who weren't "good enough" to make it in the civilian world so we enlisted.

February 22 2011 at 11:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Im a veteran; and Im out of work. What makes me angry is; most employers dont give a rats ass if youre a veteran. Its "how low can you go" and the job goes to whoever works cheapest. How can a veteran compete with a foriegner that lives in 1 house with 10 other people? Its not right and its not fair. What incentive is there for those that risk life and limb for their country; only to be sold out by greedy corporations? Why cant they offer companies tax breaks to hire and retain veterans in the workplace? Wouldnt that make a lot more sense? Foriengers to this country dont send their kids to the military; why should they; they get all the same benefits and dont have to do anything for this country they take for granted. If I were in power; veterans would have first priority for any job they were qualified for, no ifs ands or buts.

May 03 2010 at 7:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am a post Vietnam era veteran.It is true many veterans did not face the challenge of battle,but no one can tell what may happen while they are enlisted. I consider anyone who served this country a patriot.I have experienced good times and bad times, I have attended apprentice school/ college. I worked for a company which produced defence/offence weapon's for this country. I became disabled in my path through life. I went to the V.A. facility here in Biloxi, Ms. Upon entering the door I was ventured into the IT program. The program is run by the Mental Health Dept. All of the test indicate my IQ level is above average; the fact that I am a veteran and disabled creates a picture in the mind of others that a mental incapacity exist. There is never any conversation with me from the afore mentioned individuals. Just think what about the returning disabled veteran/ all deisabled veterans. Those who experienced combat or otherwise a patriot is a patriot; a retired veteran or one who served a hitch and got out with a Honorable Discharge.I am in college at the age of 53 years old and I desire not to live on Social Securiety Disability until I die. The world thinks I desire a hand out I have worked since I was a child all I desire is a job and respect.

May 03 2010 at 4:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I caught that later. She needs to use the GI bill and go back to school. Employers are bombarded by aplicants with college degrees and even advanced degrees.

March 24 2010 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Long before Bush, Texan farmers did all they could to hide the 'pickers' from immigration. It was like episodes from "Mission Impossible". What Bush did in Iraq was to call the leaders bluff. Saddam had to act the bad-***, or Iran would have kicked his butt, just like we did. Whether you are for or against that war, we still need to open more jobs for the Veterans, period. But then I guess like most Democrats, you give good talk but no action.

March 22 2010 at 9:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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