Help for the National Guard with Civilian Employment Opportunities
As the military continues its inevitable drawdown after 13 years of persistent conflict, both Congress and the Obama administration have renewed their focus on increasing civilian employment opportunities for veterans. As unemployment figures continue to improve nationally, veterans’ unemployment still remains a major concern. The unemployment rate for veterans who have served since 2001 stands at 6.8 percent. Even more troubling are the rates for National Guard veterans during this time. According to Department of Defense figures from 2013, 11 percent of National Guard veterans remain unemployed, with rates of up to 18 percent among the junior enlisted population. Taking into account this major disparity, both Congress and the president have launched new legislation and initiatives to combat veterans’ unemployment.
Over the past two months, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee held several hearings on educational benefits and employment initiatives for veterans. Many of the committee’s proposed bills would help to streamline veterans’ access to benefits and track outcomes of employment and educational pilot programs. Others, like the Military Skills for Careers Act, introduced by Congressman Dave Reichert of Washington, would help veterans transfer their military skills to compatible civilian careers in a variety of fields. Reichert’s bill would streamline the application process for veterans with transferable skills and would eliminate the need for applicants to undergo redundant and oftentimes costly training. The bill enjoys support in both the House and Senate and could see advancement to the House floor this year.
The House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity provides links to several education and employment programs for veterans on their website. Some of the programs include:
- GI Bill and other Education Programs
- Home Loan Guarnanty
- Specially Adaptive Housing Grants
- United States Olympic Committee Paralympic Military Sports Program
- National Association of State Workforce Agencies
- VetCentral (Job Postings for Veterans)
- Veterans Employment and Training Services of the U.S. Department of Labor
- Guide to Federal Employment for Veterans
- Doing Business with the VA
- Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program
- U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Veterans Business Development
- Congressional Research Service- Benefits for Veterans
Just last week, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden announced the launch of a one-stop website for veterans seeking employment or assistance in transitioning from military to civilian life. The website, ebenefits.va.gov, provides veterans and their spouses with career-building tools and services such as resume building, a military to civilian skills translator, and a veterans’ job bank. In addition, eBenefits provides veterans and their families with a one-stop resource for health, financial and educational benefits and programs.
More Tools You Can Use
Several non-profit associations provide veterans with information and programs to assist in higher education and employment:
- Student Veterans of America offers information on in-state tuition across the United States and a virtual resume workshop.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars provides assistance with VA benefits eligibility and emergency financial aid.
- The National Economic Commission of the American Legion provides a one-stop page for job-seeking veterans, including job fairs and federal career job banks.
NGAUS is committed to any legislation that helps the members and retirees of the National Guard and their families secure and maintain employment in their civilian careers. We work closely with Congress to ensure that programs like the ones included in this blog are available to the Guard.