Public Ignorance is Fueling Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran Unemployment


President Obama has focused on helping unemployed veterans get jobs. While this is a step in the right direction, government cannot overcome two core problems with hiring veterans: ignorance and arrogance among many Americans.

Last November, Obama signed a jobs bill, the VOW To Hire Heroes Act of 2011, in an attempt to address veteran unemployment. The Act provides businesses with tax credits as an incentive to hire veterans. It also seeks to improve the transition from military to civilian workforce. With veteran unemployment above the national average, the bill is a step in the right direction to helping veterans get jobs.

However, this Act will do little to address the ignorance among many Americans that prevents veterans from getting a job without government support. While many companies understand the benefit of hiring veterans, others still do not. This is due to their lack of knowledge of veteran job skills and training.

There is also the arrogance, or overbearing self-importance, that some civilians hold against veterans. This results in discrimination by companies, as well as individuals, against veterans. Some Americans are fearful of veteran health issues and try to avoid hiring them. Others hold on to Vietnam-era misconceptions and look down upon veterans as “baby killers” that do not deserve compassion or assistance.

Quick Fact: 84% of modern vets say the public does not understand the problems they and their families face. 44% say they’ve had difficulties readjusting to civilian life.

It is impossible to tell whether it was ignorance or arrogance that kept me from finding employment for twelve months. Was my resume too “military,” lacking readily transferable skills to the civilian workforce? Did a twenty-something liberal discard my resume in support of liberal beliefs? Maybe my unemployment was just due to the current economic conditions and increased competition for jobs.

All that can be said, though, is that the VOW Act, along with new proposals, will assist unemployed veterans in transitioning into civilian life. This will not, however, address how civilian organizations and some Americans view veterans. This is something that cannot be legislated.

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