Patty in the News

Vet­eran employ­ment issues took cen­ter stage on Capi­tol Hill today, as the Sen­ate Vet­er­ans’ Affairs Com­mit­tee held hear­ings on a sub­ject which was recently cov­ered in this blog by Ben Krause – the increas­ing vet­eran job­less rates.

Sen­ate Vet­er­ans’ Affairs Com­mit­tee Chair­man, Patty Mur­ray (D-WA) stated that the “high rate of unem­ploy­ment for recently sep­a­rated vet­er­ans is an issue that at first glance defies com­mon sense.” She noted, that despite their train­ing, skills, and desire to achieve, “over 27 per­cent of vet­er­ans age 20–24 were unem­ployed.”

Mur­ray also pointed out that the process of apply­ing for a civil­ian job is brand new to many young vet­er­ans who had likely never applied for civil­ian employ­ment before join­ing the mil­i­tary. Mur­ray believes that pro­grams like the Trans­ac­tion Assis­tance Pro­gram (TAP) “should be the cor­ner­stone to mean­ing­ful employ­ment for young vet­er­ans.” In addi­tion, Mur­ray said that the gov­ern­ment needs to “improve efforts to trans­late skills from the bat­tle­field, onto a resume, and into an inter­view with a prospec­tive employer.”

Back­ground: TAP is a part­ner­ship pro­gram between DoD, DOL VETS, VA, and DHS (for Coast Guard). TAP work­shops are nor­mally offered some­time dur­ing the last few months of ser­vice, and in the case of National Guard and Reserve, it is often offered as part of their out-processing or demo­bi­liza­tion.

The pres­i­dent of Mil?i?tary?.com, Admi­ral T. McCreary, also tes­ti­fied at the hear­ing. Admi­ral McCreary echoed Murray’s state­ment say­ing that “mil­i­tary per­son­nel need more expo­sure to the pri­vate sec­tor before they leave the ser­vice. That expo­sure needs to hap­pen in the form of enhanced Tran­si­tion Assis­tance Pro­grams where the focus needs to be on the vet­eran get­ting ahead rather than just get­ting out.”

In addi­tion, McCreary pointed to sev­eral key fac­tors that could help improve the tran­si­tion process for today’s younger vets. His sug­ges­tions included bet­ter out­reach to help civlian employ­ers and HR man­agers under­stand the mil­i­tary, a greater effort to trans­late mil­i­tary skills and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions into civil­ian jobs and cre­den­tials, and part­ner­ships that can help lever­age pri­vate sec­tor job search­ing, net­work­ing, and resume build­ing exper­tise.

Read Admi­ral McCreary’s Full Tes­ti­mony

Assis­tant Sec­re­tary for Veteran’s Employ­ment and Train­ing (DOL), Ray­mond Jef­fer­son, tes­ti­fied that the VETS pro­gram is work­ing to impact the bleak employ­ment num­bers by pri­or­i­tiz­ing efforts to trans­form TAP, imple­ment a new approach to employer out­reach, and bet­ter serve rural Vet­er­ans. Jef­fer­son sees the Tran­si­tion Assis­tance Pro­gram as the pri­mary pro­gram for assist­ing indi­vid­u­als in their tran­si­tion process.

To Admi­ral McCreary’s point, I think the focus should be on weav­ing tran­si­tion pre­pared­ness into the ser­vice­mem­bers expe­ri­ence long before the exit-counseling. Not many ser­vice­mem­bers can pay full atten­tion in the TAP work­shops when atten­tion is on relo­ca­tion con­cerns like house hunt­ing, movers, util­i­ties, and hous­ing inspec­tions, not to men­tion the anx­i­ety of wor­ry­ing about the next job.