Why many vets are struggling to get jobs
Some troops’ skills are great for civilian jobs, but licensing and jargon sometimes keep them from getting offers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says.
November 11th, 2011
01:29 PM ET

Why many vets are struggling to get jobs

They worked in some of the most adverse conditions in the world, often achieving their missions while under fire on the battlefield. But while the men and women of the U.S. military are highly trained in job skills and leadership, their experience doesn't always immediately translate into jobs in the civilian sector.

(Click the audio player to hear more on this story from CNN Radio's Steve Kastenbaum)

The unemployment rate among veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is several points higher than the national average. The unemployment rate for veterans who left the military after 2001 was 12.1% last month, leaving about 240,000 veterans out of work, according to the White House. The national jobless rate is 9%, according the Department of Labor.

Fourteen percent of veterans who served in the National Guard or Reserve units are jobless, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business association.

And the rate is worse for all post-9/11 veterans under the age of 24, said Kevin Schmiegel, the chamber’s vice president of veterans’ employment programs. "Roughly one out of every four in that cohort is out of a job," he said.

Veterans’ unemployment rate is expected to rise as the U.S. troop drawdown in Iraq shifts into high gear - virtually all of the 39,000 troops still in Iraq in October will be withdrawn by December 31. Also, about 100,000 National Guard members and reservists will be demobilized in the coming months. Most of those men and women will enter the civilian job market.

The U.S. House next week is expected to pass a bill - already passed by the Senate - that will give employers up to a $5,600 tax credit for hiring a veteran who has been unemployed for six months.

But the incentive may not be enough for many veterans to get a job.

Recent veterans have a hard time translating their training and experience into terms that a human resources manager can understand, Schmiegel said.

"What they often do ... when they stand in front of employers is they use military jargon, and it becomes confusing to HR managers who may have not served in the military and don't understand the value of hiring a veteran," Schmiegel said.

Schmiegel said veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have a tremendous amount of training and experience, but the private sector requires paperwork to prove it.

"We have young men and women, thousands and thousands of them, that have driven trucks and heavy machinery in the military, but they can't go immediately into a private sector job because they don't have a credential or a license in that state," Schmiegel said. "You have corpsmen and medics in the Navy and the Army who can't get jobs as (emergency medical technicians) in the private sector working at hospitals and the like because they have to go through rigorous credentialing and licensing. So, we have to start looking at doing those things before they leave [the military]."

The bill that the House is expected to pass next week, besides offering tax incentives to hire veterans, also would attempt to address the licensing obstacle. The bill would create a project directing the Labor Department to figure out ways for veterans to use their specialized training to get licenses in different fields in the civilian work force.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is helping veterans sell themselves to potential employers with a program called Hire Our Heroes. They're putting on 100 job fairs across the country as they try to match qualified veterans with job openings in their areas.

K.C. Baney showed up at one of those job fairs in New Jersey a few weeks ago. The 36-year-old from Island Heights, New Jersey, spent 10 years in the U.S. Army and served in some of the most dangerous places in the world. "It was time to be around for my two little girls and stop being shot at, so it was time to carve a new path in life," Baney said.

He knew he was entering a tough job market for veterans. The challenge for Baney was taking what he learned in his military training and experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and making it applicable to a civilian work environment. "A lot of that gets lost in translation, if you will, between some companies not really understanding what you did and what you went through, and what you're able to achieve, perform and provide to a company in the civilian sector."

Baney wound up being hired by Hecht Trailers in Toms River, New Jersey. The family-run business rents, sells and repairs just about everything that can be hooked up to a trailer hitch. Manager Mark Blue said they hired three veterans that they met at the Hire Our Heroes job fair.

"They want to come to work every single day. They're hard-working because they've been brought up that way through their military," Blue said.

- CNNMoney's Jennifer Liberto contributed to this report.

You can listen to the CNN Radio Reports podcast on itunes or subscribe to the podcast here.

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Filed under: Economy • Jobs • Military • Veterans • War
soundoff (296 Responses)
  1. Fred. S.

    Does the military veteran unemployment rate increase with number of people killed?
    "Oh, we don't count the number of Iraqians we kill. They don't matter because they are "The Enemy"."

    November 12, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Curt

      I wouldn't see any relation to the two. It seems like your just spewing out crap to make a point.

      November 12, 2011 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe Vet

      I can absolutely assure you that the US military has never, ever killed a single "Iraquian". They have ,however, killed a great number of people who were planting IED's and firing on our soldiers. You got a problem with that?

      November 12, 2011 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      Hey Fred as a 3 time vet of Iraq and Afgan, I just like to say F*** You

      November 12, 2011 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Dude

      The US will use a $1,000,000 GPS guided munition to hit a target that $50,000 worth of gravity bombs could have destroyed. The extra $950,000 was spent to minimize harm to civilians in the area.

      Terrorists aim to maximize the harm to civilians, the US spends billions to protect the civilians in nations we are fighting against.

      There is no way to fight a war and have no civilians harmed. But, that is a goal we strive for.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
    • W.G.

      Hey Fred why don´t you stick it where the sun don´t shine . These guys are our best and deserve the best
      that we can give them .

      November 12, 2011 at 3:26 am | Report abuse |
    • BrontosaurusRex

      Does your stupidity increase with each post you make? Oh, that doesn't count because you're free to hide behind your freedom of speech and the internet that the military has sacrificed to provide for you.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Maltese Falcon

      Sure, Jovette, stay out of other peoples countries, and you'll be less likely to get shot. If you want to participate in those invasions which you volunteered for, then you accept the consequences. Some countries don't want to be invaded , especially by your kind of cheap, sub-human filth. Also, stop wasting Amerikans' money over there. To bad you didn't get killed over there, then we wouldn't have to read your moronic, sub-intelligent insults.
      Hey, NSA, you reading this. Drop Dead.

      November 12, 2011 at 4:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Maltese Falcon

      Oh, now at 4.30 in the morning it shows up. Great 2nd rate job, NSA infiltrator.

      November 12, 2011 at 4:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Maltese Falcon

      So Jovette has killed alot of people over there. It would be great if they could include an estimate in parentheses next to their pseudonym. Such as "Jovette (105)", for example. Be interesting to note any difference in personality with different kill numbers.

      November 12, 2011 at 4:32 am | Report abuse |
  2. Pcat

    WARNING: If you oppose the Veterans bill, you will be accused of being unamerican by "american heroes" (IE VOLUNTEERS) for not voting to mandate a subsidy for employers to hire them.

    November 12, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Pcat

      I say "American Heroes" because 90% of them have never held a rifle on a battlefield. Those that have have earned my respect as true heroes

      November 12, 2011 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
    • may613

      You don't have to hold a rifle to support the efforts......this is exactly what the article just mentioned. I've been all over the world, not in direct combat, but supporting functions that were crucial to numerous successful missions. I was medically retired this past December after 19 years of service. I have three college degrees and have been diligently searching for employment for 10 months to no avail. The most common excuse, "You're over qualified". Most employers do not see the translation between military and civilian. Furthermore, most employers don't consider military experience applicable.

      November 12, 2011 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Dixon

      and yet they all were closer to the fight that you will ever be. that is unless this country produces more selfserving citizens like you.

      November 12, 2011 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Curt

      Alright, fair statement. So, what are your arguments against the bill?

      November 12, 2011 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
    • 1Jarhead

      I have been on the battlefield in Iraq and in an office in Afghanistan and for those who never leave the office, maintenance shop etc., A mortar shot from a mile away kills them just as quickly as a bullet on the battlefield.

      November 12, 2011 at 2:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Dude

      The US military is now 100% volunteer. The last man to enter the military by draft recently retired.

      When you volunteer there is no guarantee how or where you will server. By signing the paperwork you accept the possibility that you may be on the front lines, one way or another. Being willing to take that risk makes you a bit of a hero, no matter what you are ultimately called upon to do.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
  3. government cheese

    Why many vets are struggling to get jobs?

    Obama.

    November 12, 2011 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Dixon

      No matter what Obama does you could find error. You can't figure out he is trying to correct a problem/s created by people like you over the previous administration. Moron...

      November 12, 2011 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
    • government cheese

      Dixon- What is the best its "Bush's fault" line?
      Al Gore said, "I got divorced because I was cheated out of the election by Bush."
      LOL

      November 12, 2011 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Maltese Falcon

      Their unkown (to potential employers) secret history of war crimes.

      November 12, 2011 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Dieyoung

      Vets have been struggling to find jobs long before Obama. Look at the sixties, seventies, eighties, etc. This has been an issue for a long time, but we now have someone who cares.

      November 12, 2011 at 4:08 am | Report abuse |
  4. NetNinja

    The falicy of the Military is that it prepares you for civilian jobs. Most jobs don't translate well over to the civillian sector and also you need additional training(Schooling and a Degree) and licenses to allow to do the same job you did in the Military to even think about doing it in the Civilian sector.
    A High School graduate going straight into the military will get you some awesome training and an enlisted rating, however having a degree and then joining the military and being an Officer will get you even further.
    There are exceptions to everything and in some cases if you score high on your initial entrance exams you may be afforded the privllage of going into an accelerated training program or better yet going to Officer Candidate school.
    The G.I Bill is a load a crap and I am sure it's a lot better than it used to be. 30k doesn't go very far and the thing you don't get to do is a do over. Once that money is used up it's gone.
    If you are a infantryman your choices of jobs once you get out is some sort of Law enforcement, so you go from one military orginization to the same crap in the civilian sector and if you hated your time in the military you may dislike it even worse once you basically are doing what you were in the military.
    I did my time got out and did something not even remotely close to what my job was in the military. To tell you the truth most employers didn't care if I had military training and it rarely came up in interviews unless the person doing the interviewing was former military.

    I loved being in the military but I didn't make it a career because I saw when most people got out go right into college and took a carrer path very different from what they learned in the military. I even saw some of them come right back in because they did another no no while they were in the military. They got married and had 3 kids. Try feeding them on less than 30k a year , limited insurance and no upward mobility. The military will pay for your base housing, insurance and a little extra money for being married and having a few kids. Sounds like Indebtedness welfare to me.
    It's great place to figure out what you want to do with your life, if all you are doing is hanging with your homeys on the corner and not doing anytime except wasting time.

    November 12, 2011 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
  5. Steven

    I, for one am extremely disturbed at the anti-military writings of some, such as Fred S., but hey that is what the 1st Amendment is for! That being said, to those who think that the majority of those who serve are the uneducated, with no other choice are sadly mistaken. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry, you know, the ones "brainwashed" into killers. I knew more with 4 year degrees (Mathematics, Pre-Law, Pre-Med) and a few with with Masters thrown in, who were serving as enlisted then you would care to believe. They joined out of a sense of duty, and some, family tradition. I myself joined because that is what I wanted to do from a young age. We all exited our service as less than blood thirsty, blindly following orders zombies. We were taught, however to think outside of the box, to use good leadership traits to influence rather than coerce results.

    Secondly, I do not agree with having a preference for Vets, or any other group (that's the Libertarian in me!) . What should happen is that at the successful completion of any Military Technical or Advanced School , you should be handed a Certification, or License, that is valid throughout the country for that occupation. This would alleviate the problem of job transfer-ability. But hey, what do I know, I am but a blood-thirsty, uneducated (I have no degree, but make 70K plus) former trigger-puller!

    Semper FI!

    November 12, 2011 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Dixon

      Thank you for your service Steven. Most of us do appreciate it and know we owe you more than we can give.

      November 12, 2011 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
    • buck cameron

      These comment areas draw all kinds of troll who are quite bold behind their computers. I think we both know how brave they'd be face to face, so try to ignore their sputterings. More substantively, I agree that providing certification of competencies is a very appropriate idea. One great example is the helmets to hard hats program that transitions soldiers into the building trades. Contractors are extremely pleased to be able to hire reliable, hard working, honest people even if they have to develop the specific trade skills.

      And to any vet reading this – welcome home brother.

      November 12, 2011 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
    • buck cameron

      In the above response i showed my age – I should have said welcome home brother or sister!

      November 12, 2011 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Maltese Falcon

      What was that baloney about the 1st Amendment from Steve the Marine? Where is the reply concerning Fred?
      The Marines don't protect any dissident's right of free speech – simply a lie. Steve also seems to have left out the number of people he killed. After all, they know what Fred looks like, where he lives, and are actively plotting to torture him to death. Once again, Fred is not anti-military, he is anti-Amerikan.

      November 12, 2011 at 2:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Maltese Falcon

      Yeah, that's right, Brave Guy Cameron. If you could just find that no good rotten traitor Fred, you'd quickly show him how stupid he is by grabbing him and beating his head in. Similar to the great job you heros did at Abu Grave and numerous missions all over Iraq.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael Cox

      i agree i worked aircraft maintenance on helicopters, cargo planes, and airiel refuelers for 14 years but since the military doesnt give FAA liensences i have to goto school again to work in the civilian sector all because the military is afraid that once you have a license you wont reenlist

      November 12, 2011 at 4:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Maltese Falcon

      "Duplicate comment detected; it looks as though you’ve already said that!"

      Then where is it? I don't see it anywhere.

      Fred's writings aren't anti-military, they're anti-Amerikan. From a young age you wanted to serve the psychopaths who run your govt. and blow up buildings and kill people. What an ambition. Now that you've had your fill of murdering foreigners, you'd like a job. Drop dead.

      November 12, 2011 at 4:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. Klaark

    I guess no college education and the ability to hold a gun while doing menial labor isn't in high demand these days. Be all you can be, guys! Lol. Why I tell recruiters to F themselves.

    November 12, 2011 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Dixon

      Kind of like sitting at a computer drinking coffee. There is a lot of need for that on Wall Street right now... In fact, all you need to do is lose your customers money to get a big bonus. We spend millions a year subsidizing loans for morans to do that every year. You tell recruiters to F themselves because you are just another self serving loser like the Fred S and Pcat. You have the right to express your opinion as much as I have the right to call you on it. That is why I say go f yourself you self serving idiot.

      November 12, 2011 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Mikelike

      a degree here.

      November 12, 2011 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. Les

    In Afghanistan I was the Fire Support Officer, the Air Operations Officer and facilitated the Information Operations Working Group I started, how do I explain all of that in 1/4 of a 1 page resume or on the three lines on the job application?
    And what about all the other minor tasks that military personel get assigned to do every day? I briefed the commander about his assets and my Forward Observers about upcoming operations. I concolidated the lessons learned and conducted 15-6 informal investigations among other things, and all of this while my family was on the other side of the planet. I worked 8 1/2 months, 7 days per week, at least 12 hours per day without a day off.
    Most employers would jump at the opportunity to have someone with those qualifications, but will most likely never talk to me because their HR person who just graduated from college has no clue what I am talking about and can't believe that someone can do so much in one year. More importantly, I can't get the certification I need to land a job that will provide me the income I need to support my family.
    But I am proud because I have done something that young HR kid never did, I served my country so he/she could go to school in peace.

    November 12, 2011 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Silence

      The HR person did not just graduate from college. Newly graduated college kids are in the same boat as you. They can't find jobs either.

      November 12, 2011 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
    • NetNinja

      Actually there is a book that translates all the Military jargon into civillian speak. And in fact in SEEPS class they try and help you craft a resume into civilian terms. You are not going to walk into a C level job after the military, unless you were some General or famous Colonel.
      It's a great place to start, hell I even saw SgtMajors, First Sergeants and Gunny's who walked out after 20 years of service and walk right into starting pay jobs in the civilian sector and even saw a few working in Walmart.

      My resume is 3 pages and there is one line for the years I spent in the military. It does not translate into what I do now. Unless I am applying for a job that will take some of that training and augment it with what I know now.
      Hell I read someone on a previous post says he makes 70k a year and has a degree. I hate to say it but damn dude I ain't gonna tell you what I make but I will tell you I don't have a degree and I am making more money than you. And I don't live in an area in the country that is relative to what you should be making for that economic pay zone. That's an excuse companies use to not pay you for what you are worth. You better demand a raise or find something else that pays better.

      Pride is one thing and putting food on the table and having exta to put in savings and retiement and also go on a nice vacation is what it's all about. I work for a living and I don't live to work. If you see your boss going on nice vacations every year and you are not you better do something about it. Stop complaining. We are rasing a nation of whiners.
      I work smart for my money and my employeer gets every pennys worth.

      November 12, 2011 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael Cox

      yeah look up my aircraft aviation mos in that little walmart book and its translates to janitor. i think 5 year olds put those translation books together

      November 12, 2011 at 4:10 am | Report abuse |
  8. Silence

    Here is a news release! Try checking the unemployment rate of the newly graduated high school and college students, contemporaries of these soldiers. You will find that the unemployment rate of that group is just as high if not higher. No one is tracking these groups who have not been laid off and therefore, do not qualify for unemployment. The college group are being turned away because they have no prior experience and if they apply for minimum wage jobs, they are being turned away because they are over qualified.
    The problem is that we have a whole generation of young people who were told, go into the military and get training and you will land a good job, go to college and you will land a good job. These young people can't land any jobs.
    Many have even stopped looking and are homeless, while bankers who created this situation have make a killing after the the bailouts.

    November 12, 2011 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
  9. a warrior's wife

    It's always the same idiots talking smack. The ones who haven't served in the Military, and they never will because they can't make the cut. They are physically and mentally deficient.

    You know who you are: frightened, balding, ugly little men with big mouths and opinions about everything. The ones who hide in anonymity behind their computer screen, lash out and then feel big about themselves. . . .

    The same Haters go around life trying to make things as hard as possible for others. In short, the Vermins. . . .
    *******************************************************************************************************************************************
    Our soldiers deserve a whole lot more than what most of them are getting. We need more of our great warriors to come forward, contact their local VA where they have tons of resources available to them. Please pass it on!!!!!

    November 12, 2011 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Maltese Falcon

      Typical mindset of a military bigot. After your "service" you'll probably join some domestic police unit and beat up and kill protesters, who, of course don't know anything because they've never shot or stabbed anybody or tortured any little children into telling where their parents are so you degenerates can kill them.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Maltese Falcon

      See, didn't show up. Censorship. Thanks, NSA.

      November 12, 2011 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mike

    It's hard to get a company to talk to me here in Ohio. I got nothing on my record and highly decorated in the Marine Corps but no one calls back.

    Grateful for the G/I bill and the housing allowance but I have to still take out student loans to get everything paid for because no one is hiring.

    November 12, 2011 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Mikelike

      I live in the rust belt as well, Im thinking of going on another deployment and saving all my money for a year and moving to a part of the country with a real economy. Maybe out west. Just finshed with a BS but it hasnt helped so far. Want to get an MBA but a baby is on the way now.

      November 12, 2011 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    Many military jobs simply do not transfer to civilian jobs well. I know this first hand when I left the Army after 10 great years in the service as a Sergeant in the Air Defense Artillery. After a year of screwing around with a weak resume and applying for job after job, I followed the advice of one interviewer to just go to college and use my Army College Fund and G.I.Bill. Turns out it was the best advice and move I ever made. Now with a couple of A.S. degrees, a B.S., an MBA, and now working on my PhD, I have found nothing but success with my education. Morale of the story is for military to educate themselves when they finish service, moreover in a career field that is needed. We need more IT professionals, engineers, and nurses. The jobs are out there, people just need to have skills built up through a good education. I am living proof.

    November 12, 2011 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
  12. Blake

    As a member of the US Military that spends a majority of his time out on combat missions I just want to say a couple of things. First, the military does not really train you for civilian life. That was just a recruiting tool. It trains you to do the mission. Second, Vets complaining about not being able to get a job need to look around. They are not the only ones out there who can't get work. No special program should be made for us. The under 24 group was free to stay in the military, that was a good paying job they walked away from. If they did not like their MOS they should have lat moved or changed services. The last thing I want to mention is everyone needs to stop blaming this president and the ones before him. The citizens of this country have no one to blame but themselves. We are the ones that overspent, bought everything they ever wanted on credit, and have absolutely no work ethic whatsoever. Of course this is not everyone, but those people that the previous statement applies to are the ones that ran our country into the ground. The few cannot continue to support the many. Anyway, I got a little off topic. Have a great day, I know I will enjoy mine here in sunny Afghanistan.

    November 12, 2011 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob Prince

      You are right, the fault does not lie simply on 'this president and the ones before him'; the fault lies on this and past presidents, congresses and 'we the people' who elected them. Manifest destiny followed by saving the world for democracy in its various forms has cost US a great deal of treasure and the blood and lives of our good young men and women. What had the gloss of a bright ideal has shown to be dull dross. We, perhaps naively, perhaps arrogantly, assumed the imperial mantle cast aside by Britain. An imperial mantle is too heavy and ill fitting for a free people. It is past time for US, in turn, to cast it aside.

      November 12, 2011 at 4:56 am | Report abuse |
  13. Maltese Falcon

    You're lying. It is not a duplicate comment. It hasnT shown up anywhere.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. Maltese Falcon

    That's why CNN and Warner Bros. generally is second rate. Too many US veterans.

    November 12, 2011 at 4:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Average Joe

      Paranoid? You should be. They are outside your house right now. And there are 1,000,000 veterans with them.

      November 12, 2011 at 4:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Maltese Falcon

      That means they are outnumbered 200 to 1, and are likely to be annihilated.

      November 12, 2011 at 4:50 am | Report abuse |
  15. Tom

    VETS RULE!

    November 12, 2011 at 4:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Maltese Falcon

      And that's why your country is bankrupt.

      Veterans = Bankruptcy

      Very simple.

      November 12, 2011 at 4:43 am | Report abuse |
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