Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hire A Vet

It would have been too easy to post this yesterday, so I'll post it today in hopes that people will read it with less of a maudlin, holiday viewing:
But it's the unemployment problem facing young vets that really demands this country's immediate attention.

This is the postwar battle that Donna Bachler fights right now.

Donna deployed with the U.S. Army in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. She left the Army as a first lieutenant, but not before suffering a serious leg injury. She uses a cane to get around and has been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Despite years of experience in both the fitness and administrative industries before and during her military service, she now finds that prospective employers view veterans as potential liabilities.

"All they see is a hospital day count, not understanding how dedicated to work the military makes you," she says. "As soon as I walk into an interview with a cane, the interview is essentially over." Donna has taken to picking up freelance opportunities on the web so employers can't discriminate against her physical injury. Recurrently unemployed, this wounded warrior who once worked as a personal trainer and ran her own fitness boot camp can't find steady work because of societal failures, not her own. And her story isn't rare.

The Department of Labor reported in April that 10.9 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans are currently unemployed, a full two percentage points higher than the national average. An internal survey of IAVA members suggests that number is actually much higher at 20 percent. By now, it's well known that the veterans of this generation won't be getting a welcome-home parade. Most have come to accept this after 10 years. But it's a travesty that so many are coming home to an unemployment check.

These numbers show that employers are shying away from hiring veterans. Sometimes, years of military training and certificates don't perfectly translate to a civilian marketplace. Other times, if that candidate is still in the National Guard or Reserves, the employer cites concerns about future deployments. And still other times, it's that tired old stereotype of the crazed vet afflicted with PTSD.

It's another way to really support the troops.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I teach machining at Bakersfield College. I get all types of students but military personnel, both veteran and active/reservists, are my favorite, officer and enlisted. The reason is simple: they all have a professionalism that cannot be taught. They have a willingness to think through a problem, work as a team, and (especially) ask questions. If I were an employer I would give veterans preference in hiring for this simple fact.

-Jason Dixon