Young Veterans Struggle to Keep up in the Employment Marketplace

With additional training and responsibility, the unemployment rate of young veterans should be lower than the rest of the population. Unfortunately, in 2015, young veterans had a harder time finding and keeping a job than their non-veteran counterparts.

young veterans

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) year-end report, the unemployment rate for young veterans during 2015 under the age of 24 is 13 percent as compared to the non-veteran unemployment rate of 10.9 percent. For veterans between the age of 25 and 34, the unemployment rate is 6.9 percent. This compares to a 5.4 percent unemployment rate for non-veterans.

Statistics are only part of the story

Young veterans, between the ages of 18 and 34, face challenges in the employment marketplace that non-veterans never have to face and that older veterans have already overcome. In many cases, it is hard to translate the work that was done in the service to a civilian equivalence. There are also few calls for riflemen, artillery spotters, missile technicians and many other military positions.

Additionally, when leaving the service, young veterans don’t have the experience of looking for a career in a competitive environment. The realities of military service do not prepare young veterans for the challenges that civilians face every day. Unstable markets and the loss of long-term career options can be significantly different from the employment environment that these men and women have experienced.

Preparing young veterans for employment

Programs teaching military members who are preparing to separate from the service are available, but the self-reliance taught in the military can work against young veterans asking for help preparing for a civilian job. There is sometimes a low-grade contempt for civilian sector workers in the ranks.

While in the service, advancement in rank is a clear and open process. If a service member wants to change careers, there is a process available for that, as well. These processes become very familiar to young veterans and even if they know that the process is different in the civilian sector, the differences are never spelled out.

Young veterans, looking for a career outside of the military, are having to deal with culture shock in addition to trying to find a job.

Finding outside help

Once a veteran has left the service, many of the resources they had while serving are gone. Replacing them can be the difference between successfully re-integrating with society and failing to find a job. Local programs are also more effective than nationwide programs. A young veteran looking to find a job in Nashville isn’t all that interested in qualifying for job openings in Seattle.

Of course, there are many national organizations that have branches and operations in many different cities. These organizations can benefit young veterans looking for specific jobs with less regard for location. Finding a job that leads to a career can be more important, in this economy, than living in a preferred city.

Bringing the unemployment rate for veterans equal or lower than the civilian rate is as much a function of supporting our young veterans as it is about businesses having veteran-friendly hiring practices. Ensuring that young veterans do not enter the market place at a disadvantage to civilian trained counterparts needs to begin while in the service and continue until the veteran has the career they want and need.


Make a difference in a vet’s life. We are veterans helping veterans.

BLS, Office of Economic Opportunity, Employment Facts and Statistics, 2015 Annual Averages

Washington Times, Some military veterans struggle to find civilian jobs, Jonece Dunigan, November 2015 []

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