Veterans continue to feel the sting of a poor economy and high unemployment as they return to the civilian world after fighting overseas. YNN's Bill Carey says coordinated efforts are underway to reverse a nagging trend.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Over the past decade of war, more than two million Americans have served in the military, deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. With those overseas efforts winding down, more and more of those military personnel are returning to civilian life and they are facing new challenges finding a path to a new career.
Despite programs here in Syracuse and elsewhere across the country designed to get veterans jobs, their unemployment rate remains very high.
At Syracuse University, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families reports that overall joblessness for those veterans is hovering above 13 percent. And the rate is even higher among younger veterans in their 20s. Their unemployment rate remains above 20 percent.
“I think younger veterans are having a difficult time transitioning because they've known the military as their career and they have to really face forward on where do I go to understand which one of my skill sets are really applicable? And trying to make that match might be more difficult for younger vets,” said Gary Shaheen, IVMF Director of Employment Policy.
The work on matching more vets to jobs is focusing on both sides of that equation. The experts say veterans need help in learning skills to transition to the culture of the civilian workplace and also need access to health care and support services that will aid in that transition. There are also efforts focused on making employers more vet-friendly.
Shaheen said, “ A veteran who was a commander in the field, used to deploying troops, providing orders and seeing them carried out, those skills may not be so well recognized when they're working for a midline supervisor in an agency, who may not understand how those skills were used.”
An improved economy will help the situation improve. People offering veterans support also say the education efforts are having an impact. An impact that grows as programs change to better fit the needs of both veterans and employers.
“Generally speaking, we're smarter than we were decades ago. I think there is hope for optimism,” Shaheen said.