For many veterans coming home after multiple tours over 14 years of war, getting a job in the civilian world has been their most personal battle yet, marked by disappointments and dead ends.
But, thanks to a slowly improving job market and active efforts by veterans’ groups, officials and recruiters in private-sector companies, that dim outlook is beginning to brighten.
Though still higher than the national average, the unemployment rate among recent veterans has steadily declined. Veterans’ advocates say, perhaps most importantly, the mindset in corporate America is starting to change.
It boils down to this: Seeing that hiring a veteran is not just a good deed. It can be a smart hire.
“I think there is a commitment by the corporate community and associations and groups like ours that are trying to make people understand … We make it a point that veterans should be viewed as an investment, not as a charity,” said Mark Szymanski, a spokesman with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American (IAVA).
This is only the start. Tens of thousands of returning veterans are still looking for work. And the mission of IAVA — founded in 2004 to help returning vets reintegrate into the workforce — and similar groups has become only more critical as the Iraq war ended (despite the subsequent return of U.S. forces to combat ISIS) and the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan drew to a close.