The majority of veterans are able to transition smoothly into civilian life, find good employment and live normally after being discharged. On the flip-side, there are also a considerable number of veterans who find this transition to be a challenge.
These veterans are unable to find employment and find it difficult to adapt to civilian life.
The high rate of unemployment among veterans is vexing due to the wide skill sets that they possess. What are some of the challenges that these veterans face? We highlight some of these below.
Veterans are Not Prepared for Employment Outside of the Military
US military personnel are highly paid. They can earn up to $80,000 per year. When they are discharged from military service, they come to the civil workforce expecting to receive the same pay. They find it unbelievable that they have to settle for far less pay. This demoralizes most of the veterans from seeking employment activities.
Veterans are also expected to start from entry-level jobs, like other civilians. This might feel degrading, especially for veterans who were highly ranked in the army.
Lack of Understanding
We all agree that ex-military personnel are highly trained and have skills required in the US economy. Most veterans, however, don’t see it that way. They just can’t figure out how their military experience can be used in a civilian setting.
They are left wondering how they can apply these skills outside the military base. Veterans need to be trained on how they can convert their skills to engage in business or perform office work. More people with social work degrees should be helping veterans and give them guidance on how to transition effectively.
Some employers don’t trust veterans. Many veterans have been associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and other mental illnesses. This has made some employers jittery about hiring them.
Some veterans are also known to abuse drugs and engage in alcoholism. Most of them feel that they were not welcomed back home like heroes. Others feel that they are underappreciated for the sacrifices they made for their country, and therefore drink or abuse illicit drugs to cope with their frustrations and disappointment.
This makes them unable to retain a job. In turn, the confidence of employers on veterans has waned, making it difficult even for the majority of veterans who are highly motivated and top performers to secure jobs.
Maintaining Military Identity
Veterans seem to still maintain their military identity even after being discharged from active service. This makes them uncomfortable around civilians and creates a veil between them and the rest of society.
Being an employee means being a team player. The fact that veterans view themselves as being different from the rest means they don’t make the best team players. This makes them under perform at the workplace. Of course their training teaches them to trust no one but their fellow soldiers, and this is extended to life after active service.
Veterans are generally great people with their hearts on their sleeves. They also tend to be highly skilled. And with the proper transition training, they can contribute greatly to the US economy as civilians.
Our authors want to hear from you! Click to leave a comment
This is a problem with veterans and mental illness. When it comes to companies that want to be known as military friendly but not will to seek the education that goes with being a melilitary friendly company. As a veteran and retired after 30 years of service, a social worker with my MSW, I started my own business called BRAVO VET, that was started and designed to educated companies about mental health when it comes to veterans, i have currently been researching and education about PTSD since 2007. I got to job fairs, I get a lot of companies that think that is great and is well needed, however none will commit to have my business come and do the needed education for their company. So how can a social worker make it better if companies are not willing to step up and make the change for their business to make it better. To be listed as a military friendly company it should be more to it then just, “we hire veterans”. So I ask. How do we change it, because I am willing to help if someone can tell me.
So, this past December I left eight years in the military (4 active, 4 Guard), and completed my MSW. Two months later, 55 applications, and only two interviews left, I am still unemployed. I have had resume critiques, where I received great compliments, and I also took their critiques to improve. I had applied to from entry-level to more advanced positions. The only advice that I will not take is going after government jobs, which might give veteran preference points, but I don’t care to work for the government anymore. I’m at my wit’s end, because I am nearing the point where I need help. But, it’s difficult, because any social service agency I go into, I’m afraid to go in as a client in case they are hiring.
I do not have mental health issues, and the fact that people continually talk about them make people assume that all veterans have mental health issues. That is a very deficit-based approach, in my opinion. A more strengths-based approach is to look at the adaptability, the range of skills, the resilience of veterans as an asset to the civilian world. I wish I was in a position to just create my own job, org, whatever, but with only $600 in my bank account, no income coming, and only two weeks left with this current shelter, that’s not an option.
Sorry if this sounds sappy, but it’s the truth about a real veteran experience (MSW no less) who cannot adjust to civilian life.