Land of equal opportunity? Sadly, not if you’re a veteran. It’s a story that’s received more attention over the past year, but a new Washington Post article titled “Veterans’ Unemployment Outpaces Civilian Rate” throws some stark statistics into the mix. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11.7 percent of veterans are currently unemployed in the US, compared to 9.1 percent for the overall population.
Is there a solution to this lingering issue in sight? President Obama’s jobs package includes a tax credit of up to $9,600 for each unemployed veteran a company hires, but does money truly talk when it comes to hiring vets? In the Post article, Lionel Batty, vice president of corporate research at GrafTech International, says his company is making more of an effort to hire veterans, but it’s got nothing to do with tax breaks: “We’ll take them, but we don’t hire people because of tax credits. We do what’s right for our business.”
What it comes down to is what it’s always come down to: can companies understand and recognize the value that veterans bring to a business? The irony in all this is that companies are looking for workers who have “soft skills” – punctuality, teamwork, the ability to operate independently and take charge of a task. The Post puts it best: “The paradox for veterans is that those are qualities and skills they possess in abundance. Many employers say they value veterans’ leadership training, discipline and national service. The problem is that employers often have only the vaguest notion of what people learn in the military.”
The challenge for veterans is two-fold: first, find the companies who are actively seeking veteran workers, and then find ways to translate their skills so that companies understand what they bring to the table. We have some advice in that area, as well as a Military Ski