Despite pitches that military training will prepare people for jobs in the private sector, veterans who left service during the past 10 years have an unemployment rate of 11.7 percent. By comparison, the national unemployment rate is 9.1 percent, The Washington Post
Clevelander Brian Joseph spent 18 years in the military working as a radio operator and as a psychological operations specialist. However, the 43-year-old’s training has not gotten him far in the civilian world since he left the military in 2008, according to the Post.
“When somebody hears about the radio operator gig, they don’t immediately see a civilian application,” he told the Post. “The same for psychological operations. It is really marketing, but they don’t know what it is, and the thing they associate it with is brainwashing.”
President Barack Obama contends that his jobs bill will address the problem, including as much as a $9,600 tax credit for each unemployed veteran a company hires.
“If Congress passes this jobs bill, companies will get new tax credits for hiring America’s veterans,” Obama said in a recent speech. “Think about it. We ask these men and women to leave their families, disrupt their careers, risk their lives for our nation. The last thing they should have to do is to fight for a job when they come home.”
Although many employers say they value veterans’ leadership training, discipline, and national service, the civilian world is not like the military. Thomas Tomasula, a staffing director at Lubrizol, a company makes petroleum additives and lubricants, among other chemicals, said his company has joined an effort to place veterans, the Post reported.
“Clearly, there are some skill sets in the military that can be attractive to what we do,” he told the Post, “but the military is more defined, there’s more black and white. In business, there is more gray. The challenge is to help people be successful in this grayness.”
The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET), a business group in northeast Ohio, is working with state agencies to translate veterans’ military job skills into civilian ones “There is a gap between what the military has trained people for and what employers need,” MAGNET’s Judith Crocker told the Post. “Also, veterans are often not very articulate in describing what they learned and what they had done in the military.”
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