Finding Your Way after Military Service
December’s unemployment data came out recently, showing a progressing trend of lower unemployment; however, one key demographic hasn’t been feeling the relief—post Sept. 11th veterans. These veterans saw a major increase in unemployment from 2010 to 2011, moving from 11.7 percent to 13.3 percent.
Although many veterans hold highly sought-after skills, including expertise in engineering, communications, logistics, and medical services, not all know how to translate these skills so that businesses can understand the great accomplishments that they have completed. For instance, you may be an F-68Q; however, not everyone is going to know that it means you are a pharmacy specialist.
Because of this knowledge gap between civilians and service members, Washington has started forming legislation to help aid veterans and service members as they transition away from their respective branch.
A couple of the major forms of transition assistance are:
The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) was established to help service members as they transition to civilian life. This three-day program provides job search, employment information, training information, and VA benefits information. Those eligible for TAP are service members who are within 12 months of separation from service or 24 months from retirement.
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program
The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program (VR&E) provides counseling to service members, veterans, and eligible dependents of veterans. These services are designed to help individuals choose a post-service route to employment or schooling.
Eligible service members include current members of the armed forces and veterans that have not been discharged for more than a year. Potential applicants can apply for services using the VA Form 28-8832 or by writing a letter expressing their need.
Veterans Opportunity to Work Act
Chairman for the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Jeff Miller, said he has the goal of lowering unemployment among all veterans to sub five percent levels over the next two years. He plans on accomplishing this through the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act (VOW).
The VOW Act combines TAP with other major vocational programs, as well as streamlining licensing and certifications to make it easier for qualified veterans to receive gainful employment.
Among the education and training available, the VOW Act offers nearly 100,000 unemployed veterans from conflicts happening before Sep. 11, allowing veterans to acquire the skills needed to thrive in today’s job market.
Many state and local governments also offer programs to help our returning troops find the right job, which means it is always a good idea to check with your local VA or a local government official to see what is available to you. Job-hunting can be a stressful time, which means you should get an early jump on it, by starting your search up to a year before you are discharged.
About the Author
Kevin Pearia is a mortgage commentator for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s leading provider of VA home loans.