Leaving the military to return to civilian life can be a welcoming experience. Still, there will be rules and regulations to follow in society, and sleeping late will be a luxury unless one is independently wealthy. One must contend with the IRS, insurance, an appropriate wardrobe and other daily routines. And while the military guaranteed a paycheck every month, civilians are left to secure gainful employment on their own.
Each state has its own unemployment rules, as does the federal government. But recently, the House Veterans Affairs Committee discussed imposing tighter standards for determining eligibility for individual unemployability benefits. The proposals would hit older veterans who have passed Social Security's full retirement age, 65 or 67, depending on birth year.
Another topic under discussion concerns reducing such benefits to disabled veterans because, in most cases, they receive other federal benefits. The Disabled American Veterans service organization in particular opposes any new rulings. According to a DAV statement, the purpose of VA compensation is to make up for the effects of service-connected disabilities, and should not be tied to extraneous factors regarding the character of the disability.
According to research by the nonprofit RAND Corp., which works to develop solutions to public policy challenges, certain word choices can help get more veterans back to work. One challenge concerns transitioning military experience into a civilian resume. Resumes that tend to stress service medals, certifications and weapons qualifications can make it difficult to convince employers at any time, and especially when jobs are scarce.
The RAND study emphasizes that veterans, for the most part, bring skills to the workplace such as teamwork, leadership and staying calm under pressure, and these qualifications should be included on resumes. A report by RAND's Doug Irving quotes former Army Capt. Anthony Odierno, who was wounded during a nighttime ambush in Baghdad in 2004 and now is an executive with JP Morgan Chase & Co. His specialization is military and veterans affairs.
"My soldiers, despite everything going on, knew exactly what to do," he said.
He added that skills such as leading under combat circumstances and making decisions under the most stressful conditions translate into skills he looks for when interviewing veterans.
RAND has two reports about veterans employment that are available for free download: "Why is Veterans Unemployment So High?" can be accessed at rand.org/t/RR284. "What Veterans Bring to Civilian Workplaces" can be accessed at rand.org/t/TL160.
There are many organizations and websites that offer employment leads for veterans. In Las Vegas, the JobConnect organization has opportunities for veterans from time to time. On the Web, the DAV has resources at jobs.dav.org. And the Veterans of Foreign Wars hosts vetjobs.com.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season; and warm wishes for a super successful 2016!
— Chuck N. Baker is an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a Purple Heart recipient. Every other Sunday he discusses veterans issues over several Lotus Broadcasting AM radio stations in Southern Nevada.