Young vets can’t find jobs

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Young vets can’t find jobs
by James W. Crawley

WASHINGTON – After they serve their country in war, young veterans often return home to fight another battle: finding a job.

The jobless rate for veterans under age 24 is four times higher than the national unemployment rate and double that of others their age who never served in the military.

A new Bureau of Labor Statistics report found the unemployment rate for vets under 24 was 18.7 percent last August, when the national rate was 4.6 percent. The jobless rate for young men and women under 24 who had never served in the military was 9.9 percent.

The founder of an Iraq veterans’ group called the jobless numbers “troubling” and said they could be an early indication of further problems for vets coming home…

     

“We need to do more to integrate these people back into society,” said Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Of the 316,000 vets under 24, about 199,000 had jobs and an estimated 46,000 were unemployed. Another 71,000 were in school, disabled, incarcerated or not looking for work.

During the past 10 years, unemployment among young veterans has been slightly higher than non-veterans the same age. But, since 2003, the gap has widened sharply.

The job survey was part of a biennial study of veteran employment and is more detailed than monthly employment figures.

The jobless figures for younger veterans were even more striking because veterans typically have lower rates of unemployment than non-veterans.

“It is an area of concern,” said Charles Ciccolella, assistant labor secretary for veterans’ employment and training. “I think the numbers are going up.”

He said reasons for the high unemployment include veterans waiting to attend college and those taking time off after combat tours.

But, those who assist veterans cited additional reasons.

Many young soldiers in combat units do not learn skills transferable to civilian jobs, said Paul Davidson, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center.

“There’s not a whole lot of civilian jobs for a forward (artillery) observer,” he added.

Young veterans usually went into the military after high school and are unfamiliar with job hunting. Unlike career soldiers, young vets have not developed networks of friends who can help locate job openings, Davidson said.

Others have adjustment issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Surveys indicate as many as one in six veterans returning from Iraq suffer some mental health problems.

The Pentagon and Veterans Affairs and Labor departments have created several programs aimed at helping veterans readjust.

Before troops are discharged, they attend classes to learn about VA benefits and jobs programs. Veterans centers and many state employment offices have counselors to aid vets seeking jobs.

Labor’s Ciccolella said his department is boosting job assistance for new veterans. An improved Web “portal” is planned, including software to help write resumes, he added.

The VA and Labor plan an extensive survey of young veterans to determine factors affecting the higher jobless rate, he said.

But, veterans’ advocates said the efforts fall short.

“Those limited resources are effective, but they’re limited,” said Iraq veteran Rieckhoff.

Editor’s Note: The staff at VT wants to help. If you are a veteran looking for employment or you have a job you would like to post for a veteran please click here.


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