An op-ed in The Los Angeles Times makes the claim that the best way to honor veterans on Veterans’ Day is to hire them. Since 2010 it has been known that the unemployment rate for veterans has been significantly higher than the rate for non-veterans. When the entire country’s unemployment rate flirted with double-digits, the unemployment rate for veterans soared to almost 15 percent. However, because of a variety of hiring initiatives put in place through legislation and private companies, along with changes to Department of Defense policy regarding separation from the military, this rate slowly decreased and in fact dipped below the civilian average this summer.
However, the good fortune was not evenly spread, especially to the most recent generation of veterans. So while the larger trend of unemployment amongst veterans may be on the decline, the number of Post 9/11 veterans is still near 10 percent, exactly where it was one year ago. According to the Los Angeles Times piece, one reason for this employment disparity might be “a stubborn and misleading narrative that persists in the minds of many Americans: Every veteran is either a hero or damaged.”
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According to Military.com, even the two most recent winners of the Medal of Honor—Marine Corporal Dakota Meyer and Army Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha—found the transition from the military world to the civilian workforce challenging, at best. “There aren’t too many jobs out there for snipers,” said Meyer with some levity, but also highlighting the fact that for many in the combat arms there is no civilian-job equivalent. Romesha advised that even with preparation, “there’s no magic wand that makes sure you cover your bases,” and end up in a good job.
While the Post 9/11-GI Bill offers veterans the chance for an education, that too can be a challenge to recently returning veterans. This Veterans’ Day and beyond, realize that the veterans’ experiences are merely different from you own. For some, reintegration into civilian society is a constant struggle and, for others, it’s not. So it goes.