For two years, Iraq and Afghanistan war vet erans have experienced unemployment numbers much higher than the national average for non-veterans, ages 18–24. Currently, the trend is over 20 percent while the national average for non-veterans is 17 percent. Concerns over the impacts of service, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and extended tours for Reserve and Guard troops, are cited as possible causes for the high numbers. For that reason, many veterans no longer include periods of military service on their resumes. They take four years or more of valuable experience and throw it into the trash.
Despite current aid programs geared to help the problem, advocates claim more can be done to counter the negative connotations. To them, the answer lies within the further development of awareness programs for employers. In addition, they claim more effort by the military should be placed on developing licensing and skills that translate into the civilian workplace more easily. Conservative estimates claim it costs corporations between $3,000 to $25,000 per new hire. It makes sense that employers would be concerned about hidden problems like PTSD or future deployments. Perhaps the government could do more by way of increased tax incentives for hiring these veterans beyond what is currently in place. Meanwhile, the government has pushed for more veterans to take advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which paid out over $7 billion by the end of last year. However, with the current stigma veterans have due to their service experiences, graduating veterans may still have problems when entering the civilian labor market. So long as the government wants war, it will continue to make veterans with disorders and disabilities, both visible and invisible. This places the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much at a disadvantage: include your military service knowing it could hurt you or leave it off your resume and have a 4-year unexplainable void. Regardless, it is a problem our country can and should do more to address. For tips and tricks relating to retraining, go to www.disabledveterans.org.