By Peter S. Gaytan
Senator Patty Murray, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, reported that in March, the Department of Labor found that the unemployment rate for younger veterans (aged 20 to 24) was more than 27 percent. In fact, while the national jobless rate has dropped slightly, the unemployment rate for military veterans from the Gulf War-era II (those who have served since September 2001), rose. For veterans, the transition from battlefield to workplace is especially difficult because, according to Robert W. Madden, assistant director of the American Legion’s National Economic Commission, “they have been out of the domestic workforce for an extended period of time or, in the case of some members of the National Guard, they are called back to duty multiple times. Also, despite the specialized and finely honed skills, expertise and education they have gained, they do not come of the service possessing the specific licenses and certifications many employers require.”
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense testified before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs that the Transition Assistance Program, the “primary platform used to deliver an extensive array of services and benefits information to separating Service members,” is in the process of being completely redesigned to better meet the needs of new veterans and their families. The plan is to roll out the new TAP program on Veterans Day 2011. Senator Richard Burr, the ranking Republican on the Senate committee, reported that a recent report by the Government Accountability Office found that although many federal agencies had programs to recruit and train veterans, the GAO concluded that agencies did not know how effective their programs actually were.
One bit of bright news on the job front: veterans made up more than a quarter of the new hires by the federal government in the last fiscal year. According to Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, there has been an “aggressive effort” to find good government jobs for vets, including those disabled in combat.
Peter S. Gaytan is the author of For Service To Your Country – Updated Edition: The Essential Guide to Getting the Veterans’ Benefits You’ve Earned (Citadel, 2011), available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers. He has served as an advocate in securing and protecting the earned benefits of America’s veterans for more than a decade. Gaytan is the Executive Director of the American Legion, the largest veterans service organization in America.
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