The war in Iraq has officially been called off, but there is still a battle awaiting veterans when they return home. The men and women coming back from the Middle-East who were fighting for their country and are now entering the nationwide fight for livelihood. However, they are experiencing even more hardship than most, because their combat experience doesn’t carry much weight on a paper resume. “It’s easy to say, ‘We support you and appreciate you.’ It’s harder to say, ‘We support you and appreciate you and give you a job and fair pay,’ ” said Troy Miller, who retired from the Navy in January and still hasn’t found work.
Troy Miller is 40 and unemployed, however it isn’t his age group facing the harshest reality right now, it’s the generation behind him. One out of every three 20-24 white male veterans are jobless right now. This trend looks here to stay as the White House expects approximately 1 million troops to come home and enter civilian life within the next five years. The young vets are coming into a labor force with significant handicaps: youth, a lack of education and experience other than the military, and the physical or mental trauma experienced from war.
This issue hasn’t caught anyone off guard either, since 9/11 vets have been crushed with numbers like 12.1 percent (240,000 people) unemployment to the nations 9 percent. Even those vets who received their education already like Marine Corps squad leader Brandon Schoonover, aren’t having luck. Schoonover completed a degree in finance two years ago after leaving the service, but lacks the work experience to land a full-time job.
In 2010, the jobless rate for veterans 20 to 24 was 20.6 percent. For non-veterans in the same age, it was 15.4 percent. Currently, that trend is widening at a frightening rate. Vets 20 to 24 have a 29.1 percent jobless rate; for non-veterans that age, the rate is 13.2 percent. Young men and women defending our country’s economy should have just as much opportunity, if not more to follow the American Dream they kept attainable for millions of others.
The education is what’s lacking in veterans, and the unacceptable experience. Ruby Santiago, joined the Military after high school and accumulated eight years’ experience in information technology, including setting up computer systems in Iraq, but that experience isn’t applicable in the labor force. Some employers fear the onset of mental health problems when hiring veterans. Turning down vets for reasons like that dances the thin line of discrimination.
The White House is thankfully taking action to rid our vets of this dismal shadow hanging over their futures. President Obama has called upon businesses to hire or train 100,000 veterans and military spouses in the next two years. To this point, 86 companies have agreed to take on 25,000 veterans, the White House reports. A portion of the $447 billion jobs proposal allocates tax incentives to business’ willing to hire veterans, which could mean up to $5,600 for the company or $9,600 in tax credits for hiring a vet with a service-related disability. If the government holds to these incentives, hopefully our veterans will get the opportunities they deserve to make a living and experience the liberties of the democracy they fought for.