Veteran unemployment is a major issue that many former service members face today.
One of the most undignified moments of any Veteran’s life often comes after leaving the military and not finding a job waiting for them. After sacrificing years and youth for their country, the least that a Veteran deserves is a chance to earn a decent living as a civilian.
Yet we know that this is, sadly, not the case for countless Veterans both historically and currently. In fact, in a post-COVID 19 pandemic world, growing unemployment has become a massive problem for all Americans – in April of 2020, Veteran unemployment stood at 12 percent, representing more than one million Veterans.
While the Veteran unemployment rate fluctuates from month to month, it doesn’t even always tell the whole story. These statistics don’t take into account 100 percent of jobless Veterans, as it only reflects those who have filed for unemployment assistance and are actively looking for a job. In other words, even if the unemployment rate for Veterans drops, the total figure is likely much higher than recorded.
Finding Veteran Unemployment Solutions
Thankfully, there are ways to get help for Americans if they’re between jobs. The first method is the one open to all citizens – unemployment insurance, the joint state-federal program that provides jobseekers benefits and support while looking for a new job.
Since this program is administered individually by each state, it’s important to contact your own state’s unemployment information center depending on where you live. Sometimes these are administered by a state’s Health and Human Services or Welfare offices. There is general information available on unemployment benefits at USA.gov.
Additionally, there is an unemployment benefits program reserved exclusively for former US military personnel, provided you meet the requirements. The Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers, or UCX, is a Veteran unemployment benefit service that’s intended for former servicemembers who have just returned to civilian life but have yet to secure a job.
If you were on active duty and you were recently discharged under honorable conditions, you may be legible. Be aware, however, that the UCX program doesn’t rely on payroll deduction from servicemember wages for unemployment insurance protection. Instead, benefits are paid for directly by the various branches of the military. For more information about the UCX program and specific steps to follow to apply, the Department of Defense website has the answers for you.
Other Types of Benefits for Veterans
Unemployment insurance is a major lifesaver for any former service member who’s caught facing Veteran unemployment, as these programs offer important support lifelines so that you can concentrating on finding that new job without having to worry quite so much about being able to afford your bills.
That being said, unemployment benefits certainly don’t cover every expense you’re going to run into. That’s why it’s important to consider what other types of benefits that Veterans can avail themselves of in order to help them during uncertain times.
The existence of these benefit programs, unfortunately, is often not explicitly advertised. However, they are still there, if you know where to look. An example of this is the VA’s Financial Hardship Assistance program, which isn’t a strict Veteran unemployment program but instead offers ways to manage your medical copay debt or even get yourself exempt from future copays. This can be a major game-changer for any Veteran, especially one who has a spouse or children that need medical care or who has medical issues of their own.
Speaking of Veterans with families, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF program, is a joint federal-state program that Vets with families may be eligible for. Like unemployment assistance, TANF is also administered on a state-wide level, which means that you’ll need to find your state’s point of contact to see if you qualify and what type of aid you might be eligible for.
Finally, it bears mentioning that food assistance programs are also one way to help make ends meet for a Veteran facing hardship after losing a job. Not just Veterans, either – any American can benefit from not having to worry about choosing to spend cash on groceries or that same cash on electricity.
There are a number of different types of food assistance that might be open to you, as detailed on USA.gov; these include the SNAP benefits program, free school lunch programs for any school-age children you might have, and the WIC nutrition program for parents with children under the age of 5. WIC is especially beneficial for anyone with nursing infants, as baby formula is included in this program.
Reaching Out for Help with Veteran Unemployment
The US government does have plenty of programs designed to help Americans through hard times. Some of these are designed for Veterans, but for the most part they’re universal programs that are made to help as many different people as possible. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t other options out there that are exclusively reserved for Vets, though.
However, all this Veteran unemployment help that’s out there won’t come to you. Instead, you have to reach out for the help you need to weather the current storm. This can be a difficult task to be sure, especially if you’ve been taught all your life that the only person you can rely on for help is yourself.
Whether that’s been true in the past is irrelevant – today, in a post-coronavirus pandemic landscape, it’s more than clear that everyone can use a little help in some form or another. This includes you, too. As bleak as things may look, remember that there are people and organizations out there that are dedicated to helping make things better.
No storm lasts forever. Just keep your head above water until it’s over. If you’re feeling lost, contact the National Veterans Foundation today. We’re ready to help.