National Unemployment Falls,But Veterans Aren’t Feeling the Relief

The December jobs and unemployment data fell to its lowest in almost three years, making way for an 8.5 percent unemployment rate. This has been a trend over the past four months, due to an increase in private sector hiring.

Hiring reached a peak over the past four months, with over 200,000 new jobs created. Officials feel this upswing in hiring is proof that the economy is turning around and that small business are having more faith in the current situation. However, the positive trend has left one key demographic out – post-Sept. 11, 2001 veterans.

The unemployment rate for these veterans rose in 2011 to 13.3 percent, much higher than the 2010 figure of 11.7. These statistics are a hard pill to swallow, since most of our veterans occupy a skill set that easily correlates to the civilian workforce. Many service members obtain highly sought after skills in engineering, communications, medical services, and logistics; and in addition to those skills, veterans are used to thinking on their feet and making decisions on the spot.  Possessing a military background can also prepare those returning home for work assisting other veterans and service members with military tax preparation or through the Department of Veteran Affairs. These skills are all applicable to the workforce and are highly sought after by top companies across the nation.

The real issue seems to be that not all businesses understand the accomplishments and skill sets our nation’s veterans possess. To help close this gap, Washington has begun forming legislation to increase awareness of these skills and alleviate the unemployment epidemic.”The Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior tax credits will put more Veterans back to work by encouraging businesses to hire them, and send a message that a grateful Nation honors their service and sacrifice and wants to welcome them all the way home.” Said Jeff Miller, Chairman for the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Miller went on to say, “This legislation also improves Servicemembers’ transition to civilian life and employment by expanding education and job training programs that will help them translate their military skills into high-demand sectors of our economy.” Miller’s goal is to lower unemployment among veterans to below 5 percent over the next two years through his programs, including the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011 (VOW Act).

The VOW Act will ultimately provide veterans with the tools to obtain gainful employment through areas such as:

  •  Transition Assistance Program (TAP): The TAP will become a mandatory program and provides service members with job seeking skills, such as resume writing. Resume writing can be one of the most difficult tasks, since not all civilian employers are going to know you’re a Bridge Crewmember Engineer if you list your previous occupation as a CMF 12C.
  • Education and Training: In addition to the benefits given by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the VOW Act will give close to 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras up to 1-year of GI Bill benefits, allowing veterans to acquire skills needed in today’s job market.
  •  Licensing and Certifications: The VOW Act will also make it easier for veterans to translate their skills to civilian applications through streamlined licensing. Professions affected include, but are not limited to combat medics, truck drivers, and vehicle technicians.

While this legislation is promising, it isn’t the only help out there. Veterans can look into organizations such as Helmets to Hard Hats, Feds Hire Vets, and Veterans on Wall Street, all of which help veterans facilitate their skills in the best environment. While post-Sept. 11, 2011 veterans have had a more difficult time assimilating, it is important to remember there is hope.

For veterans of all generations, the unemployment rate decreased from 2010’s 8.3 percent to the current 7.7 percent. With this positive aspect, mixed with the programs available and organizations like Hire Veterans, service members should know there is an end in sight and should not give up their job search.

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