Veterans often find it challenging to find meaningful employment. The skills they learned in the military are often not transferable in civilian life and in many cases even if the skills are transferable the veteran requires civilian accreditation before he or she can perform those skills outside of the military. A veteran needs to be realistic in his or her goals and willing to attend training if required. Unfortunately, no matter how successful the veteran was in the military, he or she will need to properly prepare for life outside of the military. The U.S. government has established a special office to assist veterans in their job search. The website is http://veterans.gov.
Veterans have unique educational benefits that they can use for accredited schools and training programs. Educational benefits vary based on the period the veteran served. In most cases, if the school or training program is accredited, it has a representative who can assist the veteran with his benefit application. There are a number of on-the-job apprentice programs for various trades. The veteran should check into his or her local veteran service center to learn about these opportunities. Most municipalities also have a veteran service representative to assist veterans. The veteran can also go to http://veterans.gov to find more information about his educational benefits.
A veteran can also find information about his educational benefits from the Veterans Affairs website: http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/post911_gibill.asp.
Veterans face unique challenges in finding meaningful employment.
- After serving in the military, the veteran is older than the high school graduate who is a new entry into the employment market. A veteran may find his major competition is entry-level high school graduates. This may be a bitter pill for the veteran to accept, but proper preparation and training will make this transition easier.
- Many veterans have ongoing VA services that require time off during the work week to attend sessions. This sometimes creates problems with the employer.
- The veteran may feel isolated when beginning a new career in an organization that has few veterans. Peer support is an important element of transition.
- A veteran may have experiences from the military that cloud his or her perceptions of work place situations. The veteran is used to a team-like workplace that has defined criteria for career success. Civilian jobs often lack this transparency.
- Many organizations, especially government agencies, have veteran preference hiring policies; however, due to civilian networking, the preference is often subverted.
- Most veterans do not have civilian networking skills or contacts. There are times that knowing the right individual provides employment advantages that merit alone cannot overcome.
- Family situations sometimes require the veteran to accept a less desirable job rather than wait for a meaningful employment opportunity.
Veterans have benefits to assist their transition into the civilian job market. Local communities are becoming more aware of the veteran employment problem. A veteran should check in with the local veteran service representative for information on local programs. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFWs) also normally have a veteran service representative.
The Department of Labor has a website established for veteran employment: https://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/
Written by Gary Grimes, Colonel Retired, U.S. Army