|Veterans find help to enter civilian workforce|
|Friday, July 05, 2013 12:07 AM|
BY ANNE COBURN-GRIFFIS
Putnam Sentinel Editor
PUTNAM COUNTY — According to the May 2013 report issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for veterans age 18 years and older who served in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces dropped from 7.8 to 6.6 percent.
This same report states that veterans who served on active duty at any time after September 2001 — a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans — declined during that same time period from 12.3 to 7.3 percent.
This national uptake in employment of veterans is attributed to media reports of unemployed and under-appreciated veterans. Despite this, Ohio’s 900,000 military veterans plus the 80,000 residents currently serving in the United States Armed Forces still face a high unemployment rate. The 2012 annual unemployment rate among all Ohio veterans was 7.6 percent and post 9/11 veterans’ unemployment rate was 12.8 percent.
There are both public and private movements to address the employment needs of Ohio’s veterans, the sixth-highest population of veterans in America. On June 11, 2013, Governor John R. Kasich signed an executive order designed to streamline state licensing for veterans as well as simplify the process for awarding college credit for military education to veterans and service members. The document directs state departments, boards and commissions that issue occupational certifications or licenses, and the Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents in collaboration with the presidents of the University of Ohio Institutions, to take into account relevant military education, skills training and service when awarding credits. The order requires the identification of state and federal laws that are barriers to the process.
That’s all well and good but some veterans still face a communication barrier when entering the job market. This is especially true of those who have served recently. The Armed Services has its own vocabulary and veterans often have difficulty translating their skill sets into descriptive language that moves them up the human resource ladder.
“These veterans are battle-tested and have the kind of leadership skills and discipline that should make their resumé rise to the top of the pile but many don’t know how to communicate that to employers,” explained retired U.S. Air Force Col. Kim Olson with Grace After Fire, a nonprofit organization that helps female veterans re-acclimate to civilian life.
Benjamin Johnson, deputy director for the Office of Communications at Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, is ready to help.
“We do know that one of the barriers that veterans face is that they may not have a civilian resumé may never have had one,” Johnson says.
That department’s answer is an online skills translator that helps veterans turn their experiences into resumé gold that employers will understand and value. If a veteran needs a job, or an employer needs a veteran, Ohio Means Veteran Jobs (www.ohiomeansveteranjobs.com) allows veterans to post their resumés for prospective employers to review. Employers may in turn post jobs on the site.
“We also help people find jobs in person at one-stop centers around the state,” continues Johnson. On June 27, Ohio House Bill 1 was signed into law to rename each of these locations as Ohio Means Job Centers. Johnson explains that this is an effort to make them more uniform and easy to find for all Ohio job seekers. He adds that all staff who assist with veterans’ employment issues are veterans themselves.
Sometimes employment is not an option for veterans, at least not in the immediate future. A 2012 report from Ohio Combat Veterans stated that in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 40,000 service persons have been physically wounded. The estimates are that more than 300,000 will suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury. Twenty-eight percent of Gulf War-era II veterans reported having a service-connected disability in August 2012, compared with 14 percent of all veterans.
“We help provide financial assistance,” Moenter explained. “We help veterans apply for help to pay rent, utilities, etc. They have to be honorably discharged and a resident of the county they apply in to qualify.”