Today is Veteran’s Day. I hope you will all join me in extending a personal thank you to those who have served in our armed forces. If you are not a veteran, sometimes it is easy to overlook or downplay what they have done for us. Granted, not every veteran went into battle, but collectively, if they had not done what they did, I might not have the freedom to sit in my home office and write this blog post about anything I want to write about. I might not have the choice to travel as I please, to worship as I wish, to work where I do, or so say just about anything I want to anybody who wants to listen.
We cannot underestimate that freedom, but we can put a price on it. That price is the 850,000 soldiers who have died in battle and the 433,000 others who died while on duty. The cost includes the 2.7 million soldiers that have been wounded. It also includes the 38,159 who are still missing (source). That is the true cost of our freedom – and for that we are eternally grateful.
Here are some other unfortunate statistics about Veterans. First, according to the BLS, the civilian unemployment rate for non-veterans as of October 2014 is 5.4%. The unemployment rate for all Veterans of all ages is 4.5%, but the unemployment rate for those ages 18 to 34 is 8.6% which is slightly higher than the rate for non-vets of the same age (8.0%). So, while veterans are holding their own in the job search market, more could be done. In almost all categories, the percentage of unemployed veterans is higher than the comparable population of non-veterans and our younger veterans need the most help.
On a sadder note, while veterans make up about 8.8% of the total population, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, they make up about 12% of the homeless population and the majority of those suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or both. Finding, and keeping, a job is key to a veteran staying clean and staying off the streets.
So when someone calls you for networking, help them. If you learn that person is a veteran, help them again. You would not be where you are without them – and they need to know that you appreciate them for it.
For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.