The unemployment rate for veterans is generally lower than the national average, but for men and women who entered the service after September 11th, 2001, the rate shoots up to 20%. Yahoo News reports that despite numerous actions taken in private and public sectors, veterans between the ages of 18 and 34 are having a tough time landing jobs in the civilian world. Dan Huber, a former medic in the Army, tells his friends, “you guys have really got to start planning months and months in advance. It’s not just planning for interviews. It’s planning to make sure you’ll be afloat in this time period, which you don’t know how long will take.”
One consistent issue between most young unemployed veterans is a simple lack of knowledge of how the civilian job market works, with problems ranging from not having strong interview skills to being unaware of the jobs they’re qualified for. Trooper Deon Cockrel, a military liaison for the Texas Department of Public Safety, explained that young veterans don’t consider veteran job opportunities that clearly utilize the skills they acquired in the military. “A lot of them don’t know that they’re eligible, they can walk from uniform to uniform,” he said. Kevin Schmiegal, a retired lieutenant colonel, also suggested that without any experience in the civilian job market, young veterans don’t have enough knowledge to determine which careers best suit their work history.
Congress has taken steps to alleviate this knowledge gap by making their job search workshops mandatory since November 11th. Beforehand, when the classes were voluntary, attendance was considerably lower. Huber expressed regretting his hesitation in attending the workshops and was not prepared for the arduous task of securing a long-term career. Jacob Clark, a former airman, expressed approval for the workshops. He currently operates a forklift and is seeking employment as an airplane mechanic. “I’m used to working with my hands. Planes are everywhere. They all need avionics maintenance,” he said. Clark also mentioned that securing licenses for different jobs is a time-consuming process despite his work experience in the military.