Unemployed Veterans

Military veterans, back from Iraq and Afghanistan, who can’t find jobs. We’ll look at the challenge, and what it means to serve your country and then not find work.

In this Dec. 3, 2010 photo, volunteers welcome home members of 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. (AP)

In this Dec. 3, 2010 photo, volunteers welcome home members of 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. (AP)

Troops go to war. Troops come home. And when they do, they need jobs. Right now, those are tough to deliver. A lot of service men and women are coming back now from Iraq. More will come from Afghanistan. Many will leave the military. What jobs will they find in this American economy?

For the youngest right now — vets under 24 years old — unemployment last month ran at almost 38 percent! They have served and sacrificed. They have military skills that the president says will transfer. But it’s not a simple picture.

This hour, On Point: Finding jobs for America’s newest war vets.

-Tom Ashbrook


Andrew Tilghman, senior writer for the Military Times, which publishes the Army Times, Navy Times, Marine Corps Times and Air Force Times.

Daniel Hutchinson, a Specialist in the Army, he served as a medic in Iraq from 2006 to 2007. Now retired from the military, he is the founder of Ohio Combat Veterans, which helps Ohio veterans return to civilian life. You can find a report on his efforts here.

Rye Barcott, a Captain Marine Corps from 2001 to 2006, he deployed in Bosnia, the Horn of Africa and Iraq. He is author of, “It Happened on the Way to War: A Marine’s Path to Peace.”

Thomas Childers, Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s the author of Soldier from the War Returning. The Greatest Generation’s Troubled Homecoming from World War II.

From Tom’s Reading List

NPR “The jobless rate has declined a bit in the past year, but among veterans who have served in conflict since 2003, it is increasing. The unemployment rate for vets serving since the Iraq war began has risen 1.5 percentage points to more than 12 percent in the past year.”

New York Times “In Afghanistan, Cpl. Clayton Rhoden earned about $2,500 a month jumping into helicopters to chase down improvised explosive devices or check out suspected bomb factories.”

Business Week “The “new” part is key. From age 35 on, for the most part veterans have a lower unemployment rate than non-vets. In surveys earlier this decade, veterans aged 25-34 also did well. The BLSreleased figures in 2005 that showed veterans in that age group with a lower unemployment rate than their peers (just 3.8 percent vs. 5.0 percent.) For 2008, the rate for vets 25-34 was just a shade above that for those who hadn’t served in the military. Now for that group it’s 11.7 percent, well above the 9.2 percent rate for non-veterans. What might be most worrying is that what’s happening with younger vets looks like a leading indicator: the cohort of veterans now entering the work force in the midst of the economic malaise may point to a future in which veterans are falling behind their peers.”

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