Of all veteran cohorts, young post-9/11 veterans between the age of 20-27 are the most likely to have enlisted in the military without significant post-high school educational or employment experience.
More significantly, given the demands of America’s simultaneous military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan during their service, young veterans’ ability to pursue continuing education or post-career employment strategies during their service has been much more limited compared to previous cohorts in the decades between the advent of the All-Volunteer Force and the commencement of intensive military mobilization following 9/11.
Further, prior to November 2012, the military’s pre-separation Transition Assistance Program (TAP), as well as other programs intended to facilitate post-service reintegration and employment, were largely voluntary and generally regarded as fairly cursory overall.
Finally, younger veterans, who as the result of intensive training and in many cases multiple deployments overseas during their time in the service, are less likely to have built roots near their US-based duty stations and are more likely than their older peers to return home after their completion of service.
The combined impact of these factors means that young veterans who are leaving the military without the experience and credentials that more extended time in service generally affords tend to face daunting challenges in translating their military service into career-oriented job opportunities in the civilian sphere. That doesn’t mean that young veterans don’t have real value to offer to employers. Far from it. What it does mean, however, is that despite a host of well-intentioned recent initiatives which seek to expand post-service opportunities for veterans, young veterans are still having a very tough time.
This is especially true in Southern California, which has been hit especially hard during the recent recession, and where outside of San Diego County there are relatively few larger employers who are directly involved in the defense economy, so that military experience and credentials are seldom directly relevant to job requirements as positions come open.
While members of the military make up a tiny fraction of the U.S. population, the unemployment rate for America’s young military veterans far exceeds the national average. Over the past year, even as the recession has abated and unemployment has improved at rates more or less equal for both the US population and veterans as a whole, the rate of unemployment for young veterans between the ages of 20 to 24 actually rose. According to the most recent report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of the end of June 2013, the unemployment rate for young post-9/11 vets stood at a staggering 21%.
Considering the service and sacrifice of this group of brave young Americans during a time of war, this isn’t just unfortunate, it’s downright wrong. The young men and women who have served our country deserve far better than this, and ArmedForce2Workforce is committed to making a difference here in Southern California.