Military Times reports today that the unemployment rate among recent veterans (those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since September 2001) is rising, and still higher than the unemployment rate for all veterans. In July, the rate for these recent veterans was 11.8%, while the rate for all veterans was 8.4%. The overall unemployment rate in the U.S. for July was 9.5%.
According to another article in the Wall Street Journal, 25 to 29-year olds make up 39% of unemployed Iraq/Afghanistan veterans, and the unemployment rate for this group is 14.9%. Many recent veterans from these wars are returning to the U.S. with traumatic brain injuries and other service-related injuries that make it difficult or impossible to work. These veterans are also returning to a country with a struggling economy and little or no job growth. With combat operations in Iraq ending this month, and the promised withdrawal of all ground troops by the end of next year, there will be a lot of veterans looking for work in the coming years.
Kudos to U.S. Senator Patty Murray (Washington State), sponsor of the Veterans Employment Act (S. 3234), which is designed to improve employment options and opportunities for veterans, and especially focused on transition programs so that returning veterans can move from the military directly into jobs. This bill has made it out of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and will now go to the full Senate for consideration.
We serve a lot of veterans here at Community Voice Mail; they make up 11% of our total client population. We're not yet seeing many of the younger veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan asking for our services, but I fear we may in the future. Most of our veteran clients are Vietnam-era or perhaps Desert Storm/Desert Sheild; 62% of our vets are 45-59, while only 28% are 26-44 and 2% are 18-25. 28% have told us they're disabled, and 8.5% are women. 86% our of veteran clients list an employment goal when they first get their CVM number. 55% identify as homeless or at-risk of homelessness.
Too many veterans need our services...
Photo credit: Stephen Voss for The Wall Street Journal