The unemployment rate for U.S. military veterans is at its lowest level in more than six years, but advocates say many men and women still face significant employment hurdles after being discharged. That’s particularly true for veterans of the war on terror.
Overall, veterans have a lower unemployment rate than the total civilian population. However, estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics show that the unemployment rate among men and women who served after Sept. 11, 2011, was 5.7 percent in November. That’s less than it was a year ago, but it remains higher than the U.S. unemployment rate of 5.5 percent last month.
“That is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable because these guys should be getting a job. It helps them integrate back into society,” said Daniel Stanton, veterans program manager for Job1USA.
The Toledo-based human resource company was one of the chief organizers of a veterans employment symposium held Tuesday at the Toledo Club.
The event — a public-private partnership that included OhioMeansJobs, the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, McGladrey Accounting, and state Treasurer Josh Mandel — was geared toward encouraging employers to consider hiring more veterans.
About 50 people attended.
Mr. Stanton, a 21-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, said it’s important to extol the training and mindset of military members to business owners, as well as explaining and allaying fears about psychological trauma that some veterans have brought home with them.
Though it’s true many vets have post-traumatic stress disorder, it doesn’t mean they’re unstable or dangerous.
“It’s not a disability that you can’t work around,” he said.
Mr. Mandel, also a Marine Corps veteran, has frequently used his office as a pulpit to drum up support for hiring veterans.
Before addressing the conference on Tuesday, Mr. Mandel said beyond being important to him as a veteran, the project fits into his role as the state’s chief financial officer.
“I believe in order for our state to be economically strong, we need to have a pipeline of skilled workers and that’s why I’ve become very involved with this issue,” he said.
Mr. Mandel believes veterans can bring training and experiences not typical of the average college graduate, making them an attractive hire for employers.
“I don’t think military service uniquely qualifies someone for a job, but I do think it adds many skills that are needed to succeed as a leader in this economy,” he said.
Though veterans’ unemployment rates have been dropping, Mr. Stanton said as many as 500,000 military members are projected to retire or be discharged in the coming years, and there’s concern that influx will reverse that course. Additionally, the labor force participation rate among veterans remains significantly lower than the overall rate.
Job1USA has had a special veterans’ initiative for nearly three years. Bruce Rumpf, the company’s chief executive officer, said that while there has been a lot of talk about hiring veterans, much of it is little more than lip service. A commitment to hire a large number of veterans is nice, but if the jobs aren’t good, it does little to help the individuals or the economy, he said.
His company is taking a longer-term approach, including offering to work with companies to hire veterans but have them on Job1USA’s payroll.
“In the past what’s happened is people are afraid to hire a veteran because if it doesn’t work out it’s an emotional issue,” he said. “How do you let a veteran go?”
Under that circumstance, the H.R. agency would work to find the vet a better fit.
Officials from OhioMeansJobs also said they want to help those who are looking to hire veterans. One service they offer is to provide resumes they have on file to employers. Their online search engine also automatically brings veterans to the top of the list, assuming all other things are equal.