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.