The employment situation for Veterans in our country is serious. The current unemployment rate among recent Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans is well above the 9.1 percent rate for the country at large. While the overall unemployment rate for veterans of all generations is 8.8%, for young veterans it was 13.3% in June.
While military and veterans’ groups are pressing congressional leaders to quickly pass legislation, President Obama’s and Congress’ efforts to helping Veterans find work has proven difficult. “A major hiring initiative launched by the Obama administration to get Veterans into the federal workforce resulted in a net increase of just 2,000 more Veterans being hired,” reports Rick Maze in ArmyTimes.com.
Being in staffing and human resources, our part is to start to understand the value of a candidate’s military background in practical terms and educate hiring managers. The volunteer based model of our country’s armed services makes the military unfamiliar to most of the population. The amount of people in active duty represents only about one-half of one percent of Americans. Does that mean that we are so far removed by what happens while on duty that it is difficult to translate that experience into transferable skills?
In his book, If Not Now, When?, Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Jack Jacobs (Ret.) says this of his move from the military into the financial world,
“In many ways, structuring and selling investments to institutions like banks, insurance companies and pension funds was very different from defending the county. But by almost every objective measure, it was easier to devise, buy and sell investments than to kill people … To an infantry soldier, determining the volatility of a derivative transaction or the risk-adjusted return of a large portfolio of mixed assets is far easier than devising a plan to destroy a well-entrenched battalion and then motivating a bunch of petrified twenty-year-olds to do it.”
The recent royal visit to Los Angeles highlighted the issue as William and Kate attended a job fair for veterans. Sponsored by organizations such as Bank of America, the USO and SHRM, www.missionserve.org is working to “solve the problem.”
With the diverse group of Women of HR across the country, what unique perspective do you have? Is there a solution in sight?
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