Please handle with care..


Theoretically, the average age to graduate from college with a Bachelors is around 22.  For these graduates, immediately,  if not prior, try to work in the area in which they’ve chosen to educate themselves in.  For a 22/23 y/o to take a job making $30K per year is pretty reasonable as they do lack the experience needed to argue for a $75K/yearly salary.

The average veteran graduates with a Bachelor’s degree around the age of 52. Surprisingly,  women vets graduate on average, around age 42 and men vets around age 62. Whereas non-vets have a median age of 45 for graduating with a Bachelors.  There is a 7 years age difference between vets and non-vets in terms of receiving a Bachelor’s degree.

The job market is a very competitive in nature and often can be a very intimating factor for many. In today’s job market, ‘post-9/11 veterans are facing a higher unemployment rate then non-veterans”. This was also the case for Vietnam and other veterans as well.

One of the reasons for the higher unemployment rates is the injuries that veterans from both 9/11 and Vietnam veterans endure.  These injuries includes physical injury and psychological injuries. Because of these military or war created injuries, there is a negative stigma that’s placed upon men and women veterans that leaves them “unemployable” to the average nonmilitary theme corporation.

Further, due to the higher rate of unemployment, a veteran age 18-24 has the highest rate of employment, poverty and homelessness.  This rate is higher than then non-veterans that are of the same age range.  The typical young adult age 18-24 have limited skills in the work force and life, to couple this with having physical and psychological issues forces this young adult to be even less marketable for employment which leads to extreme poverty and homelessness.

On the other side of this are the veterans who have served 20+ years in the military, have exited the military but with psychological and physical injuries.  Most of these veterans are >40 years of age and because of this, will often have more financially responsibilities which means they request a bigger salary when seeking employment.  The average employer is not willing to spend the money to support the demand of an older veteran and therefore will not choose to hire them in the workforce.

Thus all keeping the cycle of un-employable veterans,  unemployed.

In the United States, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii and Kansas leads the unemployment rates for veterans.  On the contrary, New Hampshire, Missouri, North Dakota and Wisconsin has the lowest rate of unemployed veterans.  Alaska, Virginia and Georgia overall, has the highest percentages of veterans within the state while as Michigan Vermont and New Jersey has the least amount of veterans living in that state.

I recall talking to other veterans regarding their desire to work after the military, as I were transitioning.  One of the things I found common amongst most, were their desire to work either on a military installation or with an organization with a strong military foundation.  In the beginning, I didn’t quite understand the need to continue to be a part of the military environment.  But now, I believe I completely understand.

Here is my analogy:

More than 28% of veterans exit the military with a service-connected disability.  Of course when you take retiree (those who’ve served 20+ years,) the percentage is very close to 100% having a service connected physical or psychological injury.  With this in mind, the average veteran feels as thought, those on the outside of the structure of the military, will not and cannot understand them as veterans.  On average we have limitations on what we can and can’t do;

we have more medical appointments

and we come with a label that says Please handle with care”.  

Not to mention we usually a little older, demand more money and believe that we are “subject matter experts” in most things that we do.  We are cross-trained in various positions and feel as though our talents should be acknowledged and compensated.  We do not need as much supervision, in fact we can complete most tasks without much guidance.

Organizations see us as liabilities. They know that 10-15 years of employment is about all we have left in us. They know that most of us have retirement or disability pay monthly, some both, and believe that we are quicker to “walk out of the job”! There are just certain things you will and will not accept especially when you are working, just to be working.  Not to mention, our talents can be as intimidating as our personalities.  For most employers, these aren’t things they are willing to take chances on.

Not to mention, most people believe that we are one day shy of “snapping”. Yes, this is a stereotype but we won’t pretend as if it’s not something that is thought of by many.

So are we employable or unemployable?

I say employable, but of course with the right organization.  One that’s willing to accept us with all our flaws. And those they understands we want to be treated as everyone else.  As lets not forget those who knows when it comes  to veterans,

“Please handle with care.” 


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