In a sluggish economy and as military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, many men and women in uniform are making the move back into civilian life. Unfortunately, finding jobs continues to be challenge number one for these veterans.
A recent study on “Veterans Employment Challenges” from Prudential Financial and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for American sheds additional light on the difficulties they face. Interestingly, more than half the veterans surveyed cited “cultural barriers” as an obstacle; they’re concerned that employers don’t understand their military service and how that experience can help them in the workplace.
The study tracks with arguments we’ve made here previously—that military personnel are poorly served by programs geared toward preparing them to re-enter the civilian workforce.
That’s still a lingering problem, even though the unemployment rate for vets has shown some improvement in recent months. The Washington Post explains:
But Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for IAVA, cautioned against concluding that unemployment is no longer a problem for the post-9/11 generation of veterans.
“We are noting a positive trend, but the underlying problems haven’t yet been fixed,” he said in an interview Friday.
The online survey of 2,453 veterans and separating service members was conducted in in December and January, before the recent drop in veteran unemployment figures. But Tarantino said the problems identified by survey respondents remain valid concerns.
“We don’t train people very well in how to be civilians again,” he said.
Next to the overall economic problem, veterans participating in the survey said the biggest challenge they face in finding a job is explaining how their military experience translates into civilian employment.
The Obama administration, to its credit, has promised a major overhaul of transition assistance programs for veterans. That’s a good start, and regardless of who wins in November, we hope that the push for better services to our veterans is ongoing.
But more importantly, it’s time for our leaders in Washington to focus on pro-growth policies that create broader economic opportunity for all. That means lower spending, sensible budget reforms and a reasonable tax agenda that allows the private sector to thrive.