Veterans Return Home to Higher Unemployment, Few Solutions

Along with the good news of service members returning from war arrives the bad news: the unemployment rate for veterans—two groups in particular—spiked significantly in the fourth quarter of 2011, highlighting an issue that has simmered and now threatens to boil over.

Read More in the Winter issue of our Insights Newsletter.

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The War at Home: The Struggle for Veterans to Find Jobs

Veterans' Employment

The veterans’ unemployment rate runs consistently 2 percentage points higher than the national average. Young veterans, ages 18-24, have an unemployment rate upwards of 23% and women veterans, ages 18-24, experience twice the unemployment rate of their non-veteran counterparts. Significant barriers including combat related physical and mental disability, lack of work experience, training and education all contribute to these statistics.

Women veterans in particular are disproportionately single parents with few supports. Many veterans turn to post-secondary education in the face of a weak job market and the availability of generous educational benefits under the new GI Bill and the Illinois Veterans grant. Unfortunately, with little guidance and preparation for school, veterans are dropping out of these programs at alarming rates, using up their benefits with no clear pathway.

The Veterans program addresses this complex issue through a comprehensive approach that includes supportive employment programs able to address the unique needs of new veterans, development of a more robust support system on college campuses and linkage and relationship building with employers willing and able to receive veterans into their workforces.

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