Young Veterans Face High Unemployment and Few Quality Options

Earlier this year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released data showing rising unemployment among the youngest U.S. military veterans. The combined effects of the military drawdown and a struggling economy has left veterans aged 18 to 24 unemployed and frustrated, according to Call of Duty, a national nonprofit for veteran employment.

On a recent trip to Los Angeles, First Lady Michelle Obama reacted with “horror” to the employment situation that veterans face, saying, “After everything they have done for us, the idea that any of our veterans are spending months or even years struggling to find a job is unacceptable.”

Young veterans agree. In a new public service announcement, veterans report spending months searching for employment. These young speakers were surprised to learn that companies who do hire veterans frequently pigeonhole them into low-paying security, labor or janitorial roles.

Moreover, dissatisfaction with the GI Bill is rising. A recent Gallup poll showed that veterans aged 18 to 24 are the least likely to call themselves “satisfied” by the benefits the GI Bill provides.

With complex lives, many young veterans are forced to use their GI Bill benefits for lower-quality, part-time programs or online universities. And as the number of for-profit colleges expands, there are increased reports of schools eating up GI Bill benefits before a degree is even earned.

The VA Center for Innovation is seeking to diversify the types of opportunities available to veterans looking for a path to a professional future.

One new initiative, the VA-TechShop Partnership, is a pilot program with a chain of Silicon Valley fabrication laboratories. The hope is that veterans with mechanical engineering skills may be able to invent new products or start a manufacturing business with access to high-tech fabrication tools.

As more veterans come home, both statistical and anecdotal evidence suggest that better programs, not more programs, are needed.

Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC fights for veterans rights. We fight to make sure you get the benefits you deserve from the Department of Veterans Affairs. To learn more or contact a veterans lawyer, visit or call 800.693.4800

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