“…We knew this was coming…”
Last night, we topped off a very busy day with a stroll into our nearby Old Town Plaza, a family on a mission for ice cream. While the kids ran ahead to scooter on the gazebo, my head just about snapped off as I passed a newspaper stand and saw this headline – in USA TODAY, of all places:
11.2%?! 1 in 9 vets are unemployed?! Paul Rieckhoff’s Twitter feed says it all:
New vet unemployment numbers are bad. USA Today has a story. We knew this was coming. Happy friggin Friday–and 6th anniversary of the war.
Some of the facts:
- The same age group of non-vets has a 8.8% rate of unemployment. 20-24 year old vets reached a rate of 15% in February, compared to 13.8% in the same age group as non-vets.
- The Army has hit 152% of its re-enlistment goal this year. Backdoor draft anyone?
- 170,000 vets are unemployed right now…the same number of troops that are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Irony anyone?
My husband’s civilan job disappeared into the economic abyss while he was deployed to Iraq. His homecoming, instead of being joyous, was fraught with anxiety over paying our mortgage and buying groceries. Thankfully, he found an employer who understood the skills he brought to the table – skills honed during through his service in the military – but not before we endured two months of unemployment and interviews that ended with a “We’d love to hire you, but…”
This is not always the case, as the article makes clear. Skills are often difficult to translate, civilian contacts are often difficult to cultivate. And, worst of all, but perhaps not surprising, employers are often far from enlightened.
Robert Pearson, 23, of Minneapolis, is a former paratrooper who served in Afghanistan. He says it’s hard to find work as a human resources manager in order to use the skills he learned managing soldiers as a combat team leader.
He says he was shocked when a job-placement worker told him that some employers consider a military record almost like having “a felony.”
“People just frown upon us nowadays, thinking we’re all flying-off-the-handle crazy guys,” says Pearson, who has a bachelor’s degree in business management. “They don’t even give us a chance.”
A military record almost like having a felony? Oy.
Perhaps there’s hope. Last month’s stimulus package included a $2,400-per-person tax credit for employers who hire unemployed veterans in 2009 and 2010. Did the stimulus package go far enough in its support of veterans? Arguably no, but really, tax credits for employers and money to revamp VA infrastructure are a huge step up from an Administration that paid only lip service to our vets.