Veteran Employment: Causes, Consequences and Remedies
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U.S. military veterans who served in the military after September 11, 2011 have seen consistently higher unemployment rates than the national average since 2006. Understanding the causes, consequences and remedies for this trend are important public policy and national security imperatives. Each segment of American society from the federal government, the private sector and the military to veterans themselves has a role to play in improving the employment picture. Much progress has been made in helping veterans but much work remains. Failure to take the necessary steps to remedy the unemployment trend will have long-term consequences including an erosion of the American public’s relationship with its military, long-term recruitment issues that may threaten the health of the all-volunteer force and massive economic challenges. To understand the unemployment challenge for post-9/11 veterans and ultimately overcome it requires a holistic look at the role of each key stakeholder: employers, veterans and the federal government. The aim of this thesis is to evaluate the unemployment situation of veterans, understand the challenges the private sector faces, evaluate the growing civilian-military divide, assess the federal government’s role in veteran employment and finally to offer policy recommendations to help solve this challenge. Each chapter uses the latest social, economic and military literature as well as various surveys to reflect the views of each audience. To reflect the views of the private sector, I use two recent surveys including the Center for a New American Security’s “Employing America’s Veterans: Perspectives from Businesses.” The second survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) polled 359 private sector human resources professionals on the challenges faced when hiring veterans. To reflect the views of veterans, I use a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll and a poll conducted by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. To reflect the views of government, I use Congressional testimony, Congressional Research Service reports as well as statements in the news media. Ultimately what I found was that over the two-year time frame in which I wrote this thesis, the private and public sectors have made significant progress increasing veteran employment across the country. With large private sector firms and the Obama Administration forging the way forward, the military and individual veterans will have to play a larger role in the employment equation.