American Money: Paying Our Service Members Back

The nation must provide jobs and support for veterans.

Posted: 07/11/2013 06:00 AM EDT

Many people join the military to take advantage of the economic opportunities it affords, so it’s ironic that many veterans face challenges finding living wage jobs upon return from their service.

Young veterans ages 18-24 are entering the workforce with far more skills and work experience than their civilian peers, yet their unemployment rate in 2012 averaged 20.4 percent — five points higher than young non-veterans.

The numbers are projected to look better for 2013, but the number of young veterans entering the job market is due to swell exponentially as the war in Afghanistan winds down in 2014. To keep this positive trend going, we need to create stronger support to help our service members overcome the structural problems that enforce this hiring disparity.

Veterans face major barriers when they re-enter the civilian job market for a number of reasons. Businesses commonly cite concerns around translating military skills to civilian qualifications. Deployment is also a common worry. And two-thirds of veterans face some kind of health challenge as a result of their service, triggering further concerns for prospective employers.

Furthermore, the challenges and stresses of military life make military households a target for financial scam artists. In 2012, over 62,000 consumer fraud complaints were filed to the Federal Trade Commission by service members and veterans.

In recognition of these obstacles, there’s been a growing movement to ensure greater economic protection and support for veterans. Government agencies and nonprofit organizations are coming together for Military Consumer Protection Day on July 17, which provides information that not only helps veterans guard against consumer fraud, but also gives practical advice on managing money, investing wisely and dealing with debt.

Veterans can take advantage of numerous programs to help them transition to a business environment. For instance, MilitaryHire.com has a job database and a career resources section that provides advice on resume writing, interviewing and transitioning from active duty.

G.I. Jobs also provides helpful tools, including a military-to-civilian salary calculator and interviews with prospective employers about hiring military personnel. America’s Veteran, the official government site for veterans, goes a step further than most sites and provides a list of specific names and numbers of contacts working in federal agencies responsible for promoting veteran recruitment and training. 

During the NAACP National Convention in Orlando, Florida, held July 13-17, the NAACP Economic Department will host a veteran’s luncheon and workshop that will address these economic issues and provide resources and support to financially empower our service members.

American Money is a weekly column written by Dedrick Muhammad, the senior director of the NAACP Economic Programs. To learn more about preventing foreclosure and personal finance, check out the NAACP Financial Freedom Center Facebook Page or on Twitter @naacpecon

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks. 

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(Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

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