Wriiten by Michael Dakduk
Economists agree, the recession has technically ended. That really has no bearing on the fundamental issue plaguing many Americans, and our nation’s veterans. We need jobs!
Some veterans are surviving with VA benefits, whether it be educational, disability compensation, or a combination of both. But not all benefits last forever. Many veterans have exhausted their GI Bill, or they are nearing graduation, and they haven’t received a job offer. Their resumes are lost in a stack with hundreds, or they submitted their credentials online without receiving a response. The transition from combat to civilian life isn’t working out as advertised.
Last year, President Obama created the Council on Veterans Employment. This may be a response to the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans unemployment rate lingering in double digits. The council consists of senior leaders in the Obama administration, most notably the VA Secretary and the Secretary of Labor. According to the White House, this program will be a model for veterans success in the labor force. The initiative will focus on recruiting and training vets for future success as leaders in the federal government. Federal agencies will commit to recruiting veterans and streamline the hiring process; sounds like a good deal! But is it working? As a new initiative, in a dire economy, program success remains to be seen.
This leads me to question the success of the veterans preference point system. Under the vets preference system, eligible veterans may receive an additional 5 to 10 points on their federal employment application. The application is graded on a 100 point scale. If the President found it necessary to revamp the hiring process of veterans, one can only wonder about the effectiveness of the veterans preference system. I know far too many veterans who have given up on the federal hiring process, especially those who live beyond the DC beltway.
On to the private sector. Well, I can’t say much about the private sector. It seems like there is a handful of programs out there, and they appear to be focused in a few industries. If you check out GIJobs.com, you will notice they feature a list of military friendly employers. You may also notice a common trend: many military friendly employers are those in technology, intelligence, and logistics. That’s not very helpful for the Army machine gunner transitioning without a top- secret clearance, a lack of logistics training, and minimal experience in electronics. Of course, there is nothing wrong with those service members who chose a military specialty that translates easily into the civilian workforce. I applaud their forward thinking. They too may be struggling in today’s job market. But lets not mask the fact that some jobs in the military simply don’t translate into the civilian world. Please tell me where the programs are for these young veterans.
I remain skeptical of current military transition programs and veterans employment initiatives. Jobs need to exist, and good ones at that, for these programs to succeed. While we wave goodbye to recession in the rear-view, say hello to another jobless tomorrow.
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