A new report points to a lack of preparation and unaddressed health issues as the primary challenges facing veterans trying to find civilian employment.
A lack of preparation, according to service providers and veterans interviewed for the report, created multiple challenges, including unrealistic expectations among many veterans about the jobs they qualified for, the level at which they would enter the civilian workforce, how easily they would find employment or how much they should be compensated.
One post-9/11 veteran quoted in the report, Exploring the Economic and Employment Challenges Facing U.S. Veterans, described the frustration of having to start over. “I was going to be a general manager of a [fast food restaurant] and the idea of that just [expletive] made me want to hang myself, you know. After Afghanistan and all of that, I just couldn’t do it,” the veteran told a researcher from the University of Southern California’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families. USC produced the report on behalf of Volunteers of America.
Another barrier to employment for veterans cited was difficulty relating to civilians and adapting to civilian work culture.
The report also identified unaddressed mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, as risk factors for unemployment among veterans. Service providers identified substance abuse as an interconnected issue for many veterans.
One of the report’s recommendations called for a “civilian basic training” to help veterans transition to post-military life and workplaces. Another recommended establishing an employment program for veterans with less-than-honorable discharges.
“These are folks who are highly disciplined, highly trained. When veterans are returning to our country, we need to think about them belonging in our communities and in our nation,” Jonathan Sherin, executive vice president of military communities for Volunteers of America, said Tuesday during a roundtable discussion, reported Stars and Stripes.