Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Veteran Unemployment is Only Half the Story

Media coverage fails to identify soaring rates among Reservists

Keith W. Weller
ROA, Director of Communications

A recent Washington Post article entitled From Front Line to Unemployment Line offered readers a glimpse of the unemployment challenges facing veterans. Author Greg Jaffe cites the circumstances of four veterans whose combined transition experiences and lingering employment challenges are simply unacceptable. However, the article is remiss in its failure to mention the distinct differences between veterans of active service and members of America’s Reserve and National Guard.

Jaffe correctly cites the signature wounds of combat and an uncertain economy as key contributors to an average 9.4 percent unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans. Yet, we in the military community know the problem runs much deeper. Overlooked, unemployment among members of the Reserve and Guard has soared to three times the national average. The Post page one graphic charts a 9.4 percent rate of veteran unemployment, that number is as much as 36 percent within the 18-25 year old cohort of serving Reservists.

The reason is stealth discrimination. Despite their unique skills and qualifications, Reservists are dismissed in favor of individuals perhaps less qualified but certain to be available. Across the desk from a prospective employer, a Reservist, unlike his/her active duty counterpart, represents the economic strain of a new hire with the future certain deployment of a citizen warrior guaranteed to be activated at least one out of every five years, even in peacetime.

Left unchecked, recruiting and retention in the Reserve Components will plummet. We must act now, both to restore faith among those currently serving and preserve the trust of future generations of America’s citizen warriors.


Anonymous said...

Gone are the days when being a member of the reserve components was considered an asset and a no cost benefit to the employer. By hiring a member of the Guard or reserve the employer could count on an employee who was responsible enough to report to work on time with a positive attitude. They could also know that employee was in all likely hood "drug free".

All beneficial to the employer. In todays world where we depend upon our reserve forces to maintain our freedom, employers can count on their employees being gone regularly. While the services have standards for active duty and reserve forces "dwell time", that is time deployed to time at home; most reserve and guard deploy much more frequently than the goal of one to five. They are of course volunteers. An attitude of "send me in coach" prevails among the Guard and reserve.

Thank you very much for your service.

Robert said...

The Government should give a tax credit to the employer of activated Reservists and National Guard members for each day of service. To include annual training and TDY's. Just like the tax credit given employers for hiring Veterans. Plus, USERRA needs to be strengthened to allow punitive damages for violating the Federal Statute. Presently USERRA violations penalties are a joke! Just a bark with no bite!

Anonymous said...

Discrimination against reservists occurs even among companies claiming to be military friendly. Navy Federal told me they'd love to hire me if my reserve status changes. After a visit with Navy Legal and a polite letter to Navy Federal, I am now employed with Navy Federal. You could say that the working environment is a little hostile from management.

Jedi702 said...

Today there are companies (I know for a fact one airline) that knowingly violate USSERA because there is no bite. When a member complains to the company they ignore it. I went to the ESGR and the lawyer who tried to get in-touch with the company was also ignored and in the end he was very frustrated. It wasn't until my case went to the DOJ with merit that the company offered to settle my complaint. The whole process was over two years! It's time to add teeth to USSERA, or just use the Guard and Reserves less.

Anonymous said...

It is very true. Even in the 1980's I ran into the hiring issue, where a prospective employer ended the interview when he found that I had not yet attended Officer Basic Course.

While I am not in favor of government handouts, I do think that the government should put its money where its mouth is and provide some sort of softening of the blow credit to employers whose' Reserve Soldier gets mobilized. I think the TDY and Annual Training portion is over the line, however.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that this issue has not surfaced. The Reserve Sercvice Chiefs are to blame for this. They have continually touted that the Reserve Froces are a cost effective way to be active forces and take the place of active forces in key areas of the world. Send us in attitude, we want to continue to be an "Operational Force"!They have conveyed this to the JCS and the Active Component has bought off on this. What they forgot were the employers who are trying to run their companies, and they are faced with employees who are off on Active Duty for 1.5yrs because the Reserve/Guard unit has an operatonal mission. As a result when a young Reservists applies for a job the company will probably weigh a Reservist vs a non Reservist and,unfortunately, pick the non Reservist. I am not talking about big defense contractors but companies on main street trying to run a business. I think the Reserve Chiefs think that Main Street business organizations are a blank check for their employees to go on Active Duty tours for various lengths in time. The Reserve Chiefs and the Service Chiefs are way out of touch with Main Steet America business. They forgot that the one variable is the Reservist who is protected by law which he/she should be, but when you go to apply for a new job there is a big problem with employers who do not want to hire someone who is a member of the Reserve because of the Active Duty that will eventually happened. This all was done by the Reserve Forces knowing that a drawdown would occur and they could rush in and be the Active Force because, as they indicate they are "cheaper" to have on Active Duty. One component of the Reserve(USAR) calls their personnel, "Human Capitol", and they have a General Officer as Director of Human Capitol! That is the dumbest description I have ever heard of PEOPLE. This will only get worse as the drawdown occurs and young Reservists are the ones that are hurt because of the difficulty of not finding a job. The Reserve Operational philosophy is a failed strategy that will result in many leaving the Reserves because they want to get a Real Job, and not be deployed!

Anonymous said...

After my return from my Desert Shield/Desert Storm recall I was faced with an employer who demanded. that I repay them for a 2 week pay check that I received prior to my call up date
This obviously hit me the wrong way. After checking into AZ state law and local school district policy, I had the bastards paying me 30 days back pay, adding sick and personal days on my record.
It took some time and reserch, but was worth it in the end.