The 2017 US Census estimated that there around 18.9 million military veterans living in the states with about 76.5% of the 18-64 year old age range holding a job. Despite these figures, according to statistics cited in the VA’s The Military to Civilian Transition 2018 report, there is a 30.2% unemployment rate among veterans age 18-24, almost double the civilian unemployment rate. Additionally, nearly 8 in 10 service members leave the military without a job. Many businesses make attempts to at least publicly support members of the armed forces, but what are they doing to help veterans find jobs after their service? Where do veterans that do find jobs end up?
Firstly, it’s important to explore why veterans have a hard time transitioning back into civilian life. Some of the major problems veterans face when trying to get a job or start a career outside of the military revolve around a cultural disconnect and a lack of direct skill translation. Not only is it hard for veterans to adjust to civilian terminology and skill sets, but they also struggle to conform to corporate atmospheres and expectations that largely differ from those within the armed forces. Civilian populaces can also carry negative stereotypes about veterans, considering them to be too stringent or even unstable. In many cases, these perceptions can make veterans feel like outsiders and can make their transition more difficult.
What many of these employers fail to consider is the raw potential of veterans and the benefits associated with their return to the workforce. While not every military occupational specialty (MOS) is applicable or equivalent to positions in the private sector, the fact that these individuals showed the initiative and drive necessary to reach proficiency in their specialized areas demonstrates their ability to improve themselves and learn new skills. Veterans inherently possess a wide range of translatable skills including discipline, adaptability, a strong sense of responsibility, analytical problem-solving, and more. Veterans, despite their potential cultural differences with civilian populations, prove to be excellent employees because of the strength of skills and mindsets they bring to the workplace.
In regards to the cultural disconnect, companies will see the benefits if they take the time to explore and understand what it takes to recruit veterans. There are a variety of job search sites that connect veterans to job opportunities, such as CareerOneStop or Hire Heroes USA, that also provide useful information for employers and prospective employees regarding expectations and performance in the workplace environment. Companies can also be awarded for initiatives to hire veterans, as is the case with the U.S. Department of Labor’s HIRE Vets Medallion Program. Eliminating negative stereotypes and providing clear communication can go a long way in helping employers utilize the value of this working population while simultaneously supporting our service members.
So where do veterans actually end up? According to a 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, 39.1% of employed veterans are in management, professional and related occupations, another 16.5% are in sales and office occupations, and 16.4% are in production, transportation, and material moving occupations. Also important to note is that veteran entrepreneurship is on the rise; over 2.5 million Veteran-owned businesses in the U.S. account for approximately 9% of business ownership. Additionally, veterans are 45% more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans. Praescient Analytics is one of these companies, founded by Iraq War veteran Katie Crotty.
Praescient also makes hiring veterans a priority, recognizing the valuable skills they bring to the intelligence field. Veterans have a sense of duty, and they recognize the value that the intelligence field provides to federal and military agencies. Since 2011, Praescient has hired over 100 veterans and they represent 60% of the company’s workforce. Praescient was recently awarded with the 7th annual VETE Services Influencer Award, and continues its effort to support the veteran community through its hiring initiative PV1, Praescient Veterans First. Praescient is proud to be a veteran led company and we are excited to continue providing our service men and women with the latest tools and skills they need to grow in civilian industries.