Provide veterans with more career preparation.

In the August 2015 issue of the US Naval Institute’s publication Proceedings Magazine, Lieutenant Edward Wright, US Navy, addressed the need for a comprehensive plan regarding veteran employment in his article “Better Than When They Came”.

In spite of historical—and even recent—moves to address veteran unemployment, it is still an enormous concern, particularly in men aged 18 to 25, for whom the unemployment rate is 8.5 percent higher than the unemployment rate for civilians of that age group. One of the main culprits for this disparity is lack of preparation. While an improved Transition Assistance Program has offered some relief for enlisted individuals seeking to make plans for civilian life, it lacks power when no peers, or, particularly, superiors are talking about the need for careful preparation.

“One likely explanation for why officers don’t make transition education and training a priority,” reports Lt. Wright, “is that transition is less of a personal concern for them than for enlisted personnel, who are 30 percent less likely than officers to serve the full 20 years or more required to receive the military’s generous defined-benefits retirement.”

It makes sense at first glance, but policy must change in order to properly serve the 87% of officers who don’t retire from the military,

What preparations do young veterans lack?

“A 2007 report for the VA found that transitioning veterans experienced significant difficulty in finding employment in the two years following separation because of their inability to market themselves, and their lack of a professional civilian network. According to the report, civilian interviewers’ strongest negative impression of veterans was not that they lacked skills, but that they ‘were not prepared to market themselves to the business environment, they did not seem to understand the culture and expectations; thus
[they] were not career ready.’

Additionally, the report found that most service members were unlikely to ‘have developed the opportunities to access quality careers through networks and mentors.’ This is a devastating handicap when one considers that up to 80 percent of ‘high-quality careers are hidden opportunities that require direct channels of access.’”

Lt. Wright goes on to make a compelling case for officers leading subordinates in career preparation much sooner and with more conviction. Understanding the realities, challenges, and possibilities of finding employment in today’s workforce is vital for young veterans about to enter civilian life.

VSF and career-readiness

“The national median time for the unemployed to secure a job is 10 weeks.” For veterans, this may be reasonably expected to last much longer. As Lt. Wright notes, the stress and financial strain of job searching—particularly for young veterans who voluntarily leave the military without severance pay—may contribute to lasting self-doubt, debt, and even unemployment.

VSF works to alleviate time in limbo by offering a financial fast-track into Associate’s Degree and Certificate programs that not only prepare that veteran for specific jobs, but allow that veteran time to adjust and make those vital connections with friends, mentors, and potential employers. 

Sources:

Wright, Lt Edward. “Better Than When They Came.” Proceedings Magazine. August 2015. Vol. 141 /8/1,350. 22-26.

As quoted in the above article:

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics Division, Employment Situation of Veterans-20’1 3, 2, www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/vet.pdl.

Abt Associates. lnc., “Employment Histories Report: Final Compilation Report” (Washington, DC: Department of Veterans Affairs. 2008), 35. 37.

Loughran, “Veteran Unemployment,” 25.