Sunday marked the final troop withdrawal from Iraq which means that in the coming weeks and months U.S. soldiers will be returning home and many of them will be looking for work in the private sector.
Currently the unemployment rate among those veterans in the post-911 era is 11.5%. However, when it comes to our youngest veterans (those 18 to 24 years old) the unemployment rate is closer to 30%, which is nearly double that of civilians in the same age group. Part of this higher level of unemployment may be due in part to misconceptions about veterans as employees and the reluctance of some employers to consider them in the hiring process.
As we get set to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year we should all consider what we can do for those who have so bravely sacrificed to defend our freedom. The first step is to clear up any misconceptions.
Clearing-up the Misconceptions
According to John Vogel, Account Executive at HireVeterans.com, the two most common misconceptions employers have about veterans is the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and their level of education/ability to learn. To clear this up, he offered me some thoughts for American employers to consider:
Understand the Facts about PTSD: When it comes to PTSD, there is no doubt that this is a serious issue in the veteran community. The Defense Department claims that nearly 20% of returning veterans suffer from some form of PTSD. However, not all veterans suffer from PTSD and employers need to understand that PTSD is a treatable condition. Before leaving active duty soldiers are tested for PTSD and treated if necessary. The fact is the average combat veteran endures far greater levels of acute stress than any civilian position will likely ever throw at them. Vogel believes that dealing with stress is second nature to a veteran and during these tough economic times this can be a great asset.
Education and the Military: One of the biggest complaints I hear from executives is that they can’t find learners. The US military offers a tremendous amount of training across all disciplines and relies on the continual learning and adaptation of the men and women in uniform. Our combat troops face new, uncertain, and hostile situations on a regular basis. Adaptability is not only key to their success, it’s also key to their survival. It’s also important to keep in mind that the modern military is not only high tech, they are leaders in technology. Many service members have highly specialized training in technology that can be leveraged in the private sector.
Resources for Employers
Whether you are a corporate executive or small business owner, there are numerous resources out there to help connect you with qualified veterans:
- Local Veterans Affairs office
Also consider the tax credits out there specifically designed to incentivize hiring veterans. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit provides a credit of up to $5,600 per veteran hired. The Wounded Warriors Tax Credit is specifically for veterans with disabilities stemming from their military service and offers a credit of up to $9,600 per veteran hired.
Vogel believes that “no matter what the job is you are looking to fill there is a veteran out there that has the skill set to fill it”. Over this holiday season be thankful for all that we have as Americans and remember those who have sacrificed to protect our freedom.
Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy and is the founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI), a firm focused on management and leadership development. Dr. Woody also sits on the advisory board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership.Follow Dr. Woody on Twitter and Facebook