On Tuesday, October 25, President Obama announced two executive actions that aim to help veterans find jobs. The first initiative challenges Community Health Centers to employ 8,000 veterans over the next three years, while the second initiative aims to expand opportunities that would allow more veterans to become physician assistants.
Goodwill® commends efforts to create more jobs for service members, veterans and their families in light of the continuing challenges this population faces in transitioning to the civilian workforce.
The Current State of Veterans Employment Services
As the United States works to withdraw from Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), returning service members are coming home to a bleak job market. Despite a myriad of protections and supports that aim to help veterans, the unemployment rate in September 2011 was 11.7 percent for veterans who have served since September 11, 2001.
While most people leave the military prepared to enter and succeed in the civilian workforce, others face challenges – physical disabilities such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), psychological disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, and homelessness – that make it difficult for them to find jobs and advance in careers.
Existing supports and infrastructure are ill-equipped to provide all the resources that many returning service members may need and have earned. Concern over the national debt and deficit will likely deter policymakers from allocating additional federal dollars for veteran support.
Although additional investments are needed, they are not a panacea nor can they be expected when federal spending is being scrutinized. The implications are too significant to expect the federal government and stakeholders to address without more deliberate collaboration and integration among all stakeholders.
Goodwill’s Call to Support Service Members, Veterans and Their Families
Next month, Goodwill will unveil a white paper, “From Deployment to Employment: Goodwill’s Call to Action on Supporting Military Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families.” This new resource aims to help stakeholders understand the current support system for veterans, the employment challenges they face, and how current protections and supports could help existing and new stakeholders to come together to improve the support system for these individuals.
If you would like to receive more information about the white paper, email [email protected].