The U.S. economy is in bad shape, but it’s no longer in the tailspin it was a year ago. To give a concrete example, here’s just one positive indicator: The unemployment rate for most Veterans was lower in December 2010 than it was in December 2009. In fact, the unemployment rate for one group of Veterans—those who served during the first Gulf War era—dropped a full percentage point last year, from 6.4 percent down to 5.4 percent. Of course, this is good news.

But as IAVA noted on Friday, those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t having as much luck in the improving economy.

For America’s most recent Vets, the numbers aren’t good. In December 2009, the unemployment rate for OEF- and OIF-era Vets was 7.9 percent. Unfortunately, as we learned last week, by December 2010, it had ballooned to 11.7 percent. By contrast, in December 2009, OEF/OIF Vets were doing better than the general, non-Veteran population. Now, they’re doing significantly worse—and headed in the wrong direction.

At VA, we’re aware of the situation and working closely with the Department of Labor to mitigate the situation. But we want to know what you think: What more can we do, and what more should we be doing? Also, why do you think unemployment today is such an issue for Iraq and Afghanistan Vets as compared to Vets of other generations?

View the latest Veteran-related figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Published on Jan. 9, 2011

Estimated reading time is 1.2 min.

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  1. Dusty December 10, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    We need to offer more jobs to returning Vets. They served this wonderful country and now we MUST support them. If you are a business owner, please hire a Vet or offer an intenship to one. As the wife of a Vet from Afgan’s war, my husband searched and searched and finally found a welding job… not anything like he was used to doing but it is a job and thank goodness the owner was a Vet who hired him. My husband and I are two months away from our own business and our first employee will be a returning VET.

  2. Tifany Hill February 24, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    I can only really speak on the medical side of employment for soldiers that have completed his or her service. As a combat medic in the Army, I was suprised to learn that I had to take a class just to be a nursing assistant. I also had to take a class to become a medical support assistant which only taught me about billing,coding,some labs,and meds. Everything else I already knew and was like the class assistant.

    I feel that there needs to be some type of initiative to create waivers for soldiers in the medical field or any field in comparison that are transitioning into the civilian sector. I felt like I waisted some of my GI Bill funds for something that I already had skills in just to try to obtain employment. Our skills are not being recognized like they should and the schools are not always waiving you out of those classes. The cost is still appearing to be the same. There are schools also offering to help with seeking employment when you complete your training is not really holding up their end of the bargain, so soldiers would have used the GI Bill, graduated, and still be jobless.

    I can tell you that the supply and demand at the VAMC is not balancing out. They need more staff and space to handle the increase of veterans entering the health system, but I don’t really see alot of jobs being posted for the areas that are really in need of help. I am all for career advancement to make room for the next veteran, but the grade levels are making it so hard to move up eventhough I have a MBA. I do not understand how I could qualify for a GS14 and was not referred, but did not qualify for a GS12. The hiring system needs to change because its not being fair to those that are trying to become a government employee and those that are employees trying to move up.

  3. Jim, SF Retired January 31, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Imagine Kicking In a door and shooting somebody in the face. Or, even longer shots. I’ve heard it said that Snipers are some of the worst effected… they see what they’ve done.

    Doesn’t take a genious. It would be nice to see all levels of government “subsidize” payroll and/or give other incentives to employers to hire one of our men. This would be great for Small Business’ that want to grow in tight times.

  4. Luis Concepcion January 18, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I will try sending a formal proposal to General Shinseki. Perhaps something can be done to change this data.

    Best regards,


  5. Cindy1959 January 11, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    I want to Thank You for your service. I know it will not help you find a job. What are we becoming? I am so sad that you are also being ignored by a government that you served and protected. Let me know what tent city you will be at. I want my tent next to yours. I have been without benefits for 6 months. I dont feel safe in this country anymore. If this government can turn its back on you then we are in trouble. I am familiar with oath seekers and i am starting to think that it is true. Im scared! I will keep you in my prayers. Thank You and God Bless.

  6. KJ January 11, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    A TAP briefing is basically 3 days of PowerPoint at the end of an Active Duty hitch / career. There is some How-to-write-a-resume, how-to-interview 101 from DOL. There’s also a 50,000 foot view of the VA.

    Some interesting stuff and all, but, from VA’s perspective, what does the New Veteran actually leave with? I say not a whole lot. (Unless you like PowerPoint)

    At the very least, at the end of the TAP, the soon-to-be Veteran should have been asked if they wanted to apply for various VA products, right then and there: e.g., VA healthcare, GI Bill, Insurance, etc. And then walk the Service Member through the forms (10-10EZ, etc.) Gather up all the filled-out forms and forward them to be processed.

    They of course can always say NO – Not Interested; but at least you gave them the option. Then when they leave the TAP – perhaps, sadly, without a future job – but at least with some tangible options (Go back to school, get a future medical check-up, etc.)

  7. Eric Hughes January 10, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Why are we comparing unemployment rates? Unemployment rates only tracks the number of veterans eligible for unemployment benefits. Shouldn’t we instead be concerned about the employment participation rates? If you take the participation rate and subtract it from 100% you get the “Real” unemployment rate. That is the total percentage of veterans that are not working for any reason. Do that and you will see that the problem is far far worse than being admitted to here.

  8. Jess January 10, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    I am a Veteran’s wife and I’ve seen my husband strugle for 3 years to find a job. But he recently got laid off first hand from his work.
    I am still angry that the employer had laid off a well trained and hard working Veteran on first hand. My husband was a combat for 9 years and was wounded and shot few times at Iraq but was not given Medal of Honor or any some sort of benefits for being wounded at the War. My husband was feared with his life when he was deployed to Iraq for a year and a half and decided to get out from the Army as soon as he got back to California. But after his honorable discharge he had almost no experience to put onto his resume since he was a Combat and so it took him few years to find a job. Now we are devasted that he has lost his job but he just enrolled into some classes at a community college to at least get a AA degree in a demanding field like Computer Networking. I am just wondering if VA is going to make more new jobs for Veterans or make more room at VA office for Veterans right off from the War.

  9. Becky January 10, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Our Servicemen/women only get bad press in the media these days. We, the general public see on TV all the problems: difficulty adjusting to civilian life, PSTD, traumatic brain injury, spousal abuse, sexual harassment, bigotry, days or weeks of boredom waiting for action in Afghanistan and Iraq. We are told the only people who volunteer for the military are poor, uneducated and can’t find jobs elsewhere. So they get and have a stigma of being poor, uneducated and mentally unstable.

    The skills learned in the military, even at the lowest rank, are transferable to all other lines of work and should be coveted by employers like they are in Israel. They have the ability to learn new tasks in a short period of time, follow orders, respect for superiors and peers, persistence in hard physical labor or menial tasks in blazing heat without complaint, working within a group, and living with the life or death consequences of their performance. Employers can and do believe the image because their kids are college bound, in fact it is unlikely they know anyone in the military.

    By the way I resent the opinion that people who aren’t working are lazy or want to game the system. Poverty is not a choice, it is created at the top of the food chain by those lining their coffers with gold. History has proved this over and over. In my 40 years of dealing with people from all walks of life the constant is that people want their life to have a purpose and they want to be respected. Accepting earned benefits when a job is not available is a compromise that some have to make to survive.

  10. Jason January 10, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    David, well said. Fred is evidence that veteran leaders are needed to continue advocacy efforts on behalf of the next generation of veterans. Clearly, Adam does not know the effects of the original GI Bill. You know there is a funamental issue when certain individuals think investing in education is detrimental to society. At least there are organizations like Student Veterans of America that exist to support veterans through peer support.

  11. Luis Concepcion January 10, 2011 at 10:58 am

    I have a unique perspective on this as I am both a Veteran, a VA emplyoee now, and a former DVOP (Disabled Veteran Outreach Program) with the NJ Department of Labor.

    The unemployment situation for OEF/OIF Vets is deteriorating because they are a unique population group even among Veterans -this is my belief. Without going into much detail:

    1. In their majority, these are post-drawdown servicemembers and I have seen, from my own work experience, that the majority of these Veterans joined to work in areas within the military that they were not able to convert, with few exceptions of course, into the civilian life. This left them with years of experience in areas that now seem useless in the civilian world. To use my own life experience, I worked as Aircraft Pneudraulics Repairer (68H) and worked very little to nothing my job during my 5 years of active duty, when I left, even if I had been very experienced, and I saw this over and over with other Vets: it was tough to place aircraft mechanics -even those with A&P licenses! Let’s not even talk about combat-related occupations.

    2. The second issue was end-of-service career planning. End of service career planning for exiting servicemembers has vastly improved but I still belief that it’s bureacratic at its worst, and designed to treat masses at its best if compared with more modern career placement services. The system has had great revamping to accomodate online users and provide quality resources; however, I think still is designed to address an issue, not individuals.


    Short Term:
    a. Start awareness programs within the military branches of the situation. Realization is half the problem. Soon-to-be Veterans need to start putting their minds early into the fact that their service is ending and they need to find a job. They can get a head-start in gathering AARTS transcripts, college transcripts, etc. and shaping up their resumes, start developing job leads, etc.
    b. Start awareness programs through the Internet or media (such as this one) to help those already out of the service find the necessary guidance and help. The best way is to ask them to immediately contact their DVOP by going to

    Long Term: Completely revamp career planning through a link between the US Department of Labor and the military branches. Eliminate completely each branches’ end of service offices and place their control under a specialized office within the Department of Labor. The National Veterans’ Training Institute in Colorado can help coordinate this transition. You don’t need to fire anyone, just have them be trained by these folks, and then controlled by the Department of Labor that can provide a smooth transition from military to civilian life’s employment resources -also individualized service by providing actual INDIVIDUAL CASE MANAGMENT which I think is missing. The file can be transferred to any One Stop Career Service throughout the country to continue work on this respect.

    This is a very rough sketch of how I think it should be done but I have specifics of how the system can be greatly improved.

    • brenda hayes January 10, 2011 at 2:22 pm


      Thanks for your post. It was laid out very well. Clear and to the point with Issue/Solutions format which really is what this is supposed to be about.

      I think the VA is lucky to have you; I just hope they will listen to you whereever you are in the bureauracy and I hope someone is taking notes on this blog as to what you have offered.

      Keep telling is “like it is” and thanks for being so truthful.

      Please comment more on how changes need to be made in the VA or even State supported programs as you mentioned. Looking forward to more of your posts.

      Extremely appreciative,

      Vetwife Advocate

      • Luis Concepcion January 10, 2011 at 4:14 pm


        Thanks a lot for your kind words. I truly believe that this system is the best we can have today but we can always do better. In order to do this, we have to move away from treating groups, to treating individuals. I believe the DVOP programs is being underutilized elsewhere and they should play an important role in fixing this unemployment problem with the Vets. The funding is there (Wagner-Payser Act)! The human resources are there (current pre-ETS staff at all branches, DVOP’s, One-Stop Career Centers, National Veterans Training Institute, etc)! All we need is to make a few changes to the system to make work better and bring down the unemployment rate of these Veterans. It can be done faster and more efficiently than anyone could think. It’s just a matter of swift leadership.

        • brenda hayes January 10, 2011 at 7:43 pm


          If anyone from the Vantage Point team or any of the VA bureaucrats doesn’t contact you; please send your ideas directly to General Shinsecki; if you are in the Pentagon…just walk it over.

          You’ve been there done that and have walked the walk…this is where someone needs to contact you to discuss what you have offered.

          If your posts goes without being commented on by the Undersecretary that this comes under; we will know that the VP blog is not being given the credence it needs by those under General Shinsecki; and it will look like so many of the Naysayers have stated.

          I don’t think the DOL is working well in Virginia as well; not sure what the problem is as I have not had any dealings with this aspect of the system.

          Looking forward to more observations and thoughts from you.

          Sure hope those VA Undersecretary’s are listening (or should I say looking).

          Thanks for your service young man and may you continue to remember that change is important for effectiveness and excellence. We need people like you in the VA system.

          Vetwife Advocate

  12. David January 10, 2011 at 1:30 am

    @Adam Thank you for the timeless complaint on the youth of the day. But we are far from defeated.

    @Jason Your right, its hard for us to find jobs. In todays high tech world with monster, linkedin, and the like, the real network is those people who know you and can attest to your work ethic and skills. Jobs are still found, or won, most often by first (rarely second) aquantances. You can see why a Vet freshly returning from Active Duty having been stationed for years in another part of the country, or even OCONUS, might be at a disadvantage.

    After leaving Active Duty I was delayed entry to the state school I applied to. Its hard to realistically seek fulltime jobs, most with 1+ hour commutes, when I expected to start school in a couple of months. Had I found a job (there were none) I would have left almost as soon as I arrived. Returning Vets, who want to go to school, should have a seat at their school, waiting for them. I cant stress that enough, Vets who want to go to a state school should have no impediments, none! No tests (for undergrad), no application fees, no housing waitlists. How about a quick and pailess trade of a rifle for a book?

    Job placement is a common topic within my schools Student Veterans of America Chapter. We work with the Career Services Center on campus, and bring them to our meetings, and are helping each other develop our streangths for when we leave school for the workforce.

  13. Fred January 9, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    It’s a two-fold problem… the economy isn’t good in general, and we (the royal ‘we’) coddle the OEF/OIF veterans. From the moment they even consider getting out of the service they’re practically trained in how to get as much as possible from the VA, and what they don’t learn from their leaders they learn from each other. Who cares if you’re unemployed when you’re making $2-3k a month tax free from the VA? It’s no wonder that many OEF/OIF vets aren’t working, why should they?

    • Hootman January 11, 2011 at 9:31 am

      Fred….. Fred…. Fred…..

      Riddle me this Fred, if I volunteer to sign a contract to the US Military giving them a blank check payable up to and including my life, I serve my contract honorably, drag my family through physical and emotional hell, and manage to keep it all together, then I should or should not be able to get the benefits that are available to me and my family? I am leaning toward should!
      I am not sure where you are coming from when you think that any veteran should not get all of the benefits that they are eligible for. Are you suggesting that veterans should only get a few of our benefits and leave some on the table? The veterans did not create the benefits, but they did serve this country for them.
      I also am not sure what your issue is with OEF/OIF veterans. Do you think that we had a choice in the “space and time continuum” of our lives to choose which war we attended. Why should we not be trained on how to apply for and obtain our benefits? We are trained on how to fight to defend this country and to keep you from speaking a foreign language. Do you think it is possible to maintain a wife and two children on VA disability pay only? The numbers that you quote “$2-3k a month” are for veterans 90-100% disabled. Are you suggesting that these veterans should not receive all of their benefits? What sort of employment do you think these veterans would qualify for? What kind of employer would choose one of these veterans over someone else?
      FYI, if you have not picked up my tone, I am a Gulf War (3 months) US Navy Sea Bee , OIF (36months), US Army Combat Engineer, and medically retired 18 total years. I earned my Combat Action Badge in Iraq and I have a wife and two children that deserve as much credit as I do. I am going to school full time and working full time in an attempt to keep my job, going to Boy Scout meetings, Karate practice, church, and maintaining a roof over my family’s head. My wife works full time as a Branch Manager of a bank and she has been laid off two times as a manager from other banks, and she teaches piano lessons to help with the rising cost of fuel and the power bill.
      I give you these statistics, not to brag or present myself as boastful, but to make you aware of the position that I am speaking from. I have been there, done that, and I have many desert tan t-shirts to prove it!
      So, Fred…. Fred…. Fred….
      My very wise father once gave me some advice that I would like to present to you.
      “The best thing to do when you don’t know what you are talking about is to keep your mouth shut! It is one thing for people to think that you ignorant, but it is terrible to open your mouth and prove it.”
      If any person thinks that the “veterans” are getting handouts and getting as much as possible from the VA then I present to you this challenge…. Become a veteran!

      • NavyGirl August 19, 2011 at 1:57 pm

        Hootman…… go ahead baby! Tell him please!!!!!!! I hate when people who have no experience in the military, nor friends or family, and want to say what we shouldn’t be entitled to! thanks to us, you have your freedom and are not some slave in a foreign country or doing as one person dictates! Hootman….. I tip my hat off to you! I am a veteran of OEF/OIF, and so is My husband! Thank you for explaining to him what he obviously didn’t know!

  14. Pam January 9, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Unfortunately, private sector employers of this decade do not value what a Veteran can bring to their company. I was honorably discharged from the Army in 1992 within 2 months I was employed by a major construction company in an administrative position. In 2009 I was laid off from a different company where I had gained 16 years of Management skills and it took me 14 months to find employment. Posting or submitting over 100 applications and resumes which List my education, military experience and private sector experience on my resume did not help at all, I eventually gained employment with the VA.

    • Glenn Millsaps January 18, 2011 at 3:48 pm

      The Equal Employment Anti-Discrimination is finally here! The first employee-citizen anti-discrimination one stop shop. Learn how to fight employment discrimination! WE FIGHT FOR VETERANS!! Please show your support by adding us as a “LIKE”.

    • David Overby February 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      We have what I call an (un)perfect storm happening right now. The age curve is catching up, with the folks coming out of the service now. You will have more of a population than the baby boomers had. This generation will have to be quick studies in becoming their own bosses. The amount of jobs are less, the chances that were there before to come and work for the government are not there, and still income is needed. I suggest that you start looking around, what is needed and how can you develop a business to make it happen for them? I suggest learning how to do business online. You have the skills, or you can learn them cheap, then get going with it. Don’t just jump at anything, make sure you get quality teaching there as well. My site is I learned how to create a better life and income. Let me know if I can help

  15. Adam January 9, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Because there are no jobs, and people aged 30 and under as a whole are way lazier these days. We’re a defeated, hopeless generation in a world heading nowhere good. The way people think today is “why work when the gov’t will pay me to live?” and I don’t blame them. I collected UE for a solid year, and now the Post 9/11 picks up where that left off.

    • Jason January 9, 2011 at 9:06 pm

      I completely dissagree with you adam. Me and some of my veteran friends in the north east do all we can to find work i have been out of work since i left the service in 2007 and have been looking for work since. Unfortunatly I was in the infantry and the markets I am qualified to work are down sizing not growing. I am a current student getting my bachelors degree and still looking for fulltime work and cant find it with only an associates degree. Times have changed and just an associates degree does not cut it and my gibill will not pay for a masters so where can i go from here if the economy dont pick up i will soon be on welfare.

    • christopher January 13, 2011 at 5:36 pm

      You want my two since. The private sector is scard to hire us.With all the health issues vets are having,they dont want to be a part of our issues

    • Glenn Millsaps January 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      The Equal Employment Anti-Discrimination is finally here! The first employee-citizen anti-discrimination one stop shop. Learn how to fight employment discrimination! WE FIGHT FOR VETERANS!! Please show your support by adding us as a “LIKE”.

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