The US Department of Labor reports that veteran unemployment stood at 2.7% in June 2023. While this rate is lower than the national average of 3.7% in May 2023, veteran unemployment is a pressing issue in the US. Fortunately, most veterans are eligible for VA unemployability compensation to support them as they adjust to civilian life and overcome the traumas of uniform. Read on to learn about the five leading causes of unemployment among veterans.
While military service is noble, it comes at a cost, and most veterans have poor physical and mental health. Common diseases among veterans include Parkinson’s disease, TBI, cancer, kidney disease, and multiple sclerosis. Similarly, veterans suffer from multiple mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, substance, and suicidal tendencies.
Consequently, physical and mental conditions and injuries may hinder veterans from working and limit their labor market opportunities. In fact, 13% and 17% of younger and older veterans, respectively, have a service-connected disability rate.
Among the biggest drivers of unemployment among veterans is skills mismatch, whereby their military skills are not ‘transferable’ to civilian occupations. As such, veterans may take longer to find jobs. A 2016 study revealed that 53% of veterans take more than four months to get jobs after military service.
In an interview with CBS News, a veteran who had been a senior aviation leader in the military for more than two decades affirms that lack of a four-year degree thwarted his civilian job search. He contends that most job descriptions necessitated applicants to have some higher education, which he didn’t have.
Although federal law bans discrimination in the labor market, discrimination against veterans in the workplace is common. Common reasons civilian employers discriminate against veterans include stereotyping –the belief that veterans don’t have appropriate skills, prejudice, and fear of recall to active duty.
Additionally, most employees do not consider military experience important in the civilian setting. While veterans think including military experience would give them an advantage, most employers overlook it and only consider civilian work experience. Most businesses don’t understand how years or even decades of military service can benefit them and equip a veteran to fill a specific position.
Many veterans report being frustrated by certifications in civilian employment during a job search. While military work teaches numerous hard and soft skills, veterans must have certifications to practice in the civilian world. The process of getting these certifications is lengthy, intimidating, and costly.
Multiple veterans recount undergoing civilian courses for concepts they already knew to gain certification. For instance, while an army paramedic has the same roles as a civilian, the former must complete a yearlong and costly civilian course to be eligible to function as a civilian paramedic.
Similarly, a veteran driving a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle in unforgiving Afghanistan terrain must get commercial driver certification to qualify for a civilian truck driving job.
Lack of Seamless Integration in Civilian Life
Veteran unemployment is propelled by problems with society’s reintegration after service. Transitioning to civilian life can be challenging, and the high veteran unemployment rates make it harder. While numerous government agencies and nonprofit organizations strive to meet veterans’ needs after active duty, they don’t do it holistically and focus on single pieces of the puzzle, such as healthcare and education.
After years of fighting for the country, veterans deserve to come home to a fresh start and numerous opportunities, including employment. Unfortunately, this is never the case, and most warriors return to an uphill battle of constant unemployment. By understanding the causes of veteran unemployment, relevant entities can create strategies and systems to improve the situation.