Are businesses not doing enough to hire veterans, or do we simply have a bigger problem on our hands that politics continues to ignore?
An article titled “Businesses Must Hire More Vets” written By Michelle Obama and Jill Biden who launched Joining Forces (Nationwide campaign to support veterans and military families) caught my attention. An article speaking about veterans and spouses separating from the military struggling to find employment is a story we sadly hear all too often. “Years of training and experience in the military — leading dozens, even hundreds of their peers; operating some of the most advanced technology; and solving complex problems under the most extreme conditions imaginable. But when they returned home, they struggled to find decent jobs” as Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden explained.
The first and second lady sound like they do understand the difficulties veterans and spouses face, though after seeing a short list of companies (Walmart, Home Depot, Target, and McDonalds) who are looking to help put more veterans and spouses to work, I’m struggling to understand how anyone can claim “we are making real progress” as they have stated. First and foremost, we do not have answers to some basic questions about what these companies will offer our veterans and spouses. We also don’t know how well or how many veterans and spouses have benefited or not benefited from this initiative. As a veteran myself, I decided to put a small list of questions together, hoping someone may have the answers.
- Will these be professional (management) positions, or will they be entry level?
- Will these positions be Full Time, Part Time, Seasonal or Temporary?
- Will these positions award veterans and spouses pay and benefits that match the knowledge and experience they have gained serving in uniform?
- Will these positions be open to older, homeless and/or disabled veterans?
- Will a “decent job” as Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden state, offer our veterans and spouses a decent lifestyle, allowing them to afford basic necessities such as a car, food, shelter, an education for their children, or will they struggle to make ends meet?
Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden explained, our veterans are separating the military with great knowledge and experience in their fields, which I agree. As a Veterans Employment counselor, I speak to veterans everyday who are transitioning from the military to civilian life. In addition, I also speak to older veterans who are established with a family of their own, a mortgage to pay and who are also finding it difficult finding a job or holding on to one due to many times, their age.
I have witnessed firsthand how a job fair for veterans can turn out; with nothing more than veterans receiving a business card with directions on how to apply for positions online. It was absolutely disheartening to see these young and older veterans arrive well groomed and suited up with copies of resumes in hand, only to leave in disappointment. After a particular incident, the veterans I work for and myself began thinking maybe these companies aren’t so serious about hiring veterans and instead jumping on the “I support the troops” bandwagon as Filmmaker Michael Moore has stated back in January.
Although it may be a bit misleading, we have to still be thankful for everyone trying to help us veterans in this battle. I believe there is a much bigger problem here; there is simply not enough jobs for veterans, spouses, and for our fellow Americans. With companies still sending jobs overseas, budget cuts and many small businesses finding it difficult to stay afloat, we may never reach the goal of “finding a job for every veteran and spouse” as Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden believe is possible, though we cannot stop trying.