This is a bit of old news, but the Super Committee failed to reach an agreement on budget cuts. As a result, there are plans for significant cuts; some that will undoubtedly impact the veteran community. This on top of what some are calling the worst job market on record.
The national recession that put millions of Americans out of work and the U.S. unemployment rate at 9 percent has hit one group harder than most veterans; those veterans between the ages of 18 and 24.
From 2008 to 2011, veterans’ unemployment rose 5.1 percentage points, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The civilian unemployment rate rose approximately 2.5 percentage points in that period.
An October 2010 U.S. Department of Labor report shows that unemployment tops 20 percent among 18- to 24-year-old veterans, compared with a national rate of about 9 percent.
The situation is expected to worsen after 10,000 servicemen and servicewomen return from Afghanistan and 46,000 come home from Iraq by year’s end.
In addition, some services will be harder to access to due the looming cuts, which may increase the numbers of domestic violence, suicide, and substance abuse.
A 2010 survey sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service indicated the extent of the unemployment problem faced by veterans, especially young veterans.
The data showed male veterans ages 18 to 24 who served during Gulf War era II (post-Sept. 11, 2001) had an unemployment rate of 21.9 percent in 2010.
For female veterans of all ages who served during that period, the unemployment rate was 12 percent.
For comparison, the survey showed that for men who served in World War II, Korea or Vietnam, the unemployment rate averaged 8.4 percent. For women who served in those wars, the rate averaged 5.5 percent.
So what’s being done to help shore this issue up? In response to the issue, the federal government and business organization have offered pledges and laws to spur the hiring of veterans, which is all fine and good as long as they are qualified.
The VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, signed into law by President Obama, expands education and training opportunities for older veterans by providing nearly 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras and wars with up to one-year of additional benefits to go towards education or training programs at community colleges or technical schools for high-demand jobs.
The law also makes available mandatory workshops in resume writing and career counseling for service veterans moving to civilian life. The law also provides disabled veterans up to one year of additional vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits.
If you are considering hiring a qualified veteran (which is one of the smartest business decisions you can make), legislation provides a tax credit of up to $5,600 for hiring veterans who have been looking for a job for more than six months, as well as a $2,400 credit for veterans who are unemployed for more than four weeks, but less than six months.
In spite of the Super Committee’s inability to reach common ground, America will recover. It may be a long haul – but I have no question that when small business and our veteran community unite, it will put America back on the right path.
A credit up to $9,600 for hiring veterans is also available to employers who hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been looking for a job for more than six months, and the law strengthens the protections for members of the National Guard and Reserve in the workforce to minimize hostile work environments.
An example of the private sector effort is the American Logistics Association pledge to hire 25,000 veterans within two years. The association is comprised of 270 large U.S. corporations.
Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.