Published Date: 06/09/2014
By Reneé Watkins
At this time of year we find ourselves right in between Memorial Day and Independence Day, both of which serve to remind us of the supreme sacrifice made by our military to preserve our freedom.
We have so much to thank our veterans for as we owe them for their service. Our returning veterans are still struggling to find employment upon their return and completion of their service. Although unemployment among veterans fell to 9 percent in 2013, it is still well above the US average of 6.3 percent. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are more than 720,000 unemployed veterans in the United States today.
One of the biggest problems faced by veterans is that most companies do not consider military experience to be of the same value as “work experience.” Also, many companies require a college degree, which is something many military veterans do not have. Another reason for the high unemployment among veterans is the high rate of disability. Approximately 29 percent of Gulf War era vets returned home with some form of disability.
Fortunately, various departments within the government are stepping in to help veterans make the transition from military employment to civilian employment.
Recently, the Department of the Navy sponsored a job fair specifically for veterans in Raleigh to assist in this transition. More than 70 employers were invited to meet with veterans as part of the 4th Annual Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Conference.
During the conference, veterans had the opportunity to meet with employers who were interested in hiring veterans where appropriate for current openings. Veterans were also provided with support and training to assist them in the transition to civilian employment.
For example, veterans who drove transports and other heavy equipment in the military are counseled on how to equate that experience with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) as a skill. Training for interviews is also offered. In the military, short sentences are more the norm and the word “I” is seldom used. Many veterans are not used to selling themselves as required in most job interviews. Preparing them for such steps in the hiring process is essential to providing them with the best chance possible of getting a job.
The purpose of job fairs like the one recently held in Raleigh is not to convince employers to hire veterans out of patriotism or as a charitable gesture. Veterans should be hired because of their experience, their drive, their determination and their commitment. Who better to trust with your business?