New Veterans Face 17% Unemployment Rate, Significantly Higher than Official Government Report
Posted by Michelle McCarthy on March 26
Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation’s first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, released a groundbreaking Member Survey revealing that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are facing significantly higher rates of unemployment and a lack of mental health support than previously reported by the government. The survey, the largest of its kind to date published about Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, assesses a broad spectrum of employment, education and mental health issues impacting new veterans and their families. The release of the data, along with IAVA’s 2012 Policy Agenda, officially launches IAVA’s seventh annual nonpartisan “Storm The Hill” advocacy trip to Washington, D.C. from March 26th – 30th.
“IAVA’s groundbreaking annual survey shows that unemployment for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is significantly higher than reported by the government. Nearly 17% of IAVA members are unemployed, which is eight percentage points higher than the national average as reported by the Department of Labor. This information should be a wake-up call for all Americans. After 10 years of war, we’re losing a new generation of leaders to joblessness. Nearly 2.4 million veterans have been leading the way overseas. It’s time for us to welcome them back with jobs so they can continue leading here at home,” said IAVA Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff.
“This week, for the seventh year in a row, IAVA is bringing dozens of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to Washington to tell their stories at Storm the Hill. IAVA’s top priority is to lower the unemployment rate and help vets transition into the workforce. Last year, IAVA fought for and won huge bipartisan legislation—the VOW to Hire Heroes Act—laying critical groundwork in the fight against veteran unemployment. But we know every great career starts with a great education, and the New GI Bill is one of the best tools that vets have to fight joblessness. At Storm the Hill 2012, dozens of vets from across the country will walk the halls of Congress to protect the career-ready education benefits made possible by the New GI Bill. We will also fight for expanded suicide prevention initiatives, increased focus on PTSD, TBI and other invisible injuries, and better care and support for women warriors. We hope that the White House, Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and all of Congress will stand with IAVA to ensure our country continues to invest in the New Greatest Generation of leaders. Even in a partisan election year, these are issues all leaders in Washington should be able to agree on. Our vets are ready to solve problems, and are eager to help.”
Highlights of the Survey
IAVA’s Member Survey is carefully designed to help us gain a deep understanding of a wide range of new veteran issues. In January 2012, IAVA asked our members approximately 120 quantitative and qualitative questions—and over 4,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans responded to the survey. Almost every survey question invited our members to elaborate on their answers and tell their stories. To review the Member Survey results, click here.
Employment and Education
- IAVA members’ unemployment rate was 16.7%. This is significantly higher than the 12.1% average unemployment rate for Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans in 2011 as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Among the unemployed, 24% were unable to find a job that matches their skill level and 11% were unable to find a job that matches their education level.
- Almost half (49%) of unemployed members did not feel that employers were open to hiring veterans.
- More than half of our members are highly or somewhat interested in starting a business in the next 3 to 5 years or 6 to10 years.
- Almost 30% of our members are using the New GI Bill. Among those who are not, almost 50% plan to use it or pass it to a dependent.
- Most rate their experience with the New GI Bill as excellent (35%) or good (41%), but 42% have found the processing slow and 34% had financial problems because of delays.
- Two-thirds of our members do not think troops and veterans are getting the care they need for mental health injuries, including combat-related stress or military sexual trauma.
- Thirty-seven percent of our members personally know someone they served with or another Iraq or Afghanistan veteran who has committed suicide.
- Ninety-six percent think counselors that understand military life and culture are very important (77%) or somewhat important (19%) in provision of mental health care.
- Almost one-third (31%) divorced or broke up with a long-term partner as a result of deployment and the return home. A quarter of those with children said their child had emotional problems (25%) or had problems in school (24%).
- Sixty percent do not think the military/Department of Defense is doing a good job of reaching out to troops and veterans regarding their mental health injuries and care.
- Less than half (49%) think the VA is doing a good job of reaching out to troops and veterans regarding their mental health injuries and care. Nearly 69% didn’t know or guessed incorrectly the name of the current Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
IAVA’s 2012 Policy Agenda
On Monday, March 26th, IAVA will host an open press briefing for Congressional staff members to discuss the findings of IAVA’s Annual Member Survey and introduce IAVA’s 2012 Policy Agenda. Informed by the Member Survey results, the 2012 Policy Agenda outlines concrete IAVA recommendations for how the public and private sectors can work together to combat veteran unemployment, protect veterans’ education, improve access to mental health care, support female veterans and impact other issues facing new veterans and their families. To read IAVA’s 2012 Policy Agenda, click here.
The briefing on the survey and policy agenda will take place from 1-2pm EDT at the Hart Senate Building, Room 902 on Capitol Hill. Press RSVP is required. Please contact Michelle McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend.
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