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Coming Home: The hardships veterans face when they return from war

As of last month, an estimated 850,000 veterans were unemployed and the jobless rate for post-9/11 veterans was at 12.1 percent – that’s nearly 3 percent higher than the national unemployment rate. Add to this that one million service members will be returning to the civilian workforce in the next five years, and it’s clear that today’s veterans are facing a daunting financial road ahead.But even more troubling is that this economic insecurity is leading to more and more of these post 9/11 veterans winding up homeless and on the streets – especially those under the age of 30, according to a joint study by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Veterans Affairs. These young vets now make up a disproportionately large share of the homeless population nationwide. So an array of federal agencies have launched new campaigns to help these returning vets in their transition back to the civilian world. And on the eve of Veterans Day, the Senate passed one piece of President Obama’s stalled jobs package, approving legislation that would offer tax credits to businesses that hire military veterans, and fund retraining programs for older unemployed vets. The Obama administration has additionally announced a series of new initiatives to combat veteran unemployment, including a veterans job bank. And the V.A. has pledged to end homelessness among vets by 2015 with their own set of new programs.

But these initiatives can hardly come soon enough. As we discovered during a recent visit to southern New Jersey, some of our young vets who escaped the battlefield with their lives are now enduring lives of hardship back home.

For more information about jobs programs for veterans, visit the websites below:


  • Murphymona

    A 2 yr old only wants Dad with her for Christmas.  What you can provide your daughter for Christmas is a none issue.  Take comfort.

  • Robert McArtor

    I do not know how to answer your poll question.  I am a retired officer with 20 years of service in the UD Navy with one year with the USMC in Vietnam.  Every one civilian and military warrant extra consideration finding employment.  Unfortunately since “everyone” can not possibly receive special assistance, military veterans of our current Iraq and Afganistan should receive consideration ahead of others who may have equally valid needs.  But non military have not risked their lives, their limbs and their mental health for our country.  Veterans of past wars prior to Iraq and Afganistan have at least had some time to find their way into the job market – not so with our recent veterans. 
    Robert McArtor, MD 

  • Robert

    acknowledge what war lies wreak against our home America and our fellow Americans

    StopLying Please!

  • kendall boone

    I am a gulf war marine suffering from the same problems. I’m homeless and losing my children. My friends and family are outraged because there seems to be no hope for me. Something needs to be done.

  • NorCAengineer

    It is unfortunate that returning veterans have trouble finding employment. Only slightly less troubling is that I, a 50-something UC Berkeley Electrical Engineer with recent IT consulting experience, have been unable to find a full-time job in over a year of searching.  Of the *many* jobs I am qualified for, and have applied for, on (recruitment for government jobs), *none* have chosen to interview me (though my application has been “referred to recruitment official” many times). Many of those jobs have gone to veterans, who are given preference points in the evaluation score (as reported by colleagues in the hiring agencies – branches of federal government). Also reported by persons in the hiring agencies, is that veterans who are not-quite-qualified are sometimes hired at a slightly lower grade position, and given time and training to meet (eventually) the requirements of the position as originally advertised.  Many veterans had a job, with pay and benefits, during a time when I was drawing down my savings because I could not find one.

    In these economic times, many are unable to find jobs.  Giving disabled veterans preference and assistance is an idea I support, even though I am unable to help pay for it (because my income is so low, there are no income taxes due). But giving non-disabled veterans preference in hiring is not fair to the rest of us, nor to the institutions that may hire less-than-the-best for their openings.

    I respect those who have served in the US military, whether they joined as a matter of moral conviction, or simply to have a decent job for a few years. I hope this country returns to a time where everyone who wants to work can find work, and to a time when public assistance (particularly at the state level) is more available. Until then, it is important to remember that times are tough out there for many, many job seekers, and that younger people (as are most recently returned from military service in the Middle East) can work at a wider range of positions (including manual labor) than can older people. Younger people have more mobility to move where the work is, as compared to those of us who own a home we cannot easily sell, and are paying loans against.

  • Mzeimichal

    It would be helpful to know the difference in unemployment among vets and non-vets of similar age, occupation, and experience.  Without that information, it’s impossible to tell if their situation is worse than anybody else’s.

    I think it’s important to articulate bias.  This particular report didn’t.  It simply proceeded from the assumption that returning vets have it worse than anyone else, and we need to do something about it.  They made their decisions to enter the military, just as others decided to go to college, and perhaps major in something non-job related, and still others opted to do neither.  We all live with the benefits and consequences of our decisions.  Perhaps choosing the military merits some consideration; perhaps choosing teaching, and then entering the job market as teaching jobs are being eliminated also merits consideration.

    STate your bias if you’re going to report on such issues in this way.

  • Unemployedvet#XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Your right a two year old will not remember not getting presants from daddy but it is a horrible feeling not to be able to provide a joyful Christmas for your child. It shoulcn’t be important but it is.

  • Donate@Website

    After watching this I decided to start a Returning Veterans campaign to ensure returning veterans have a level playing field when it comes to technology, website design, and marketing.

    By providing pro bono websites created by professional designers Donate@Website:Supports veteran-owned businesses establish their online presence to grow their business;Improves economic opportunities for returning service members by helping them find jobs or entrepreneurship opportunities;Develops strong online and offline communities around great work already being done;Provides online portals to critical information and resources;Establishes professional bonds between designers and veterans;Fosters pride around veteran-owned businesses; andHelps veterans transition back into civilian life

  • Huldah

    Hi Kendall, I am a new Marine mom and have been preparing for this for a couple of years now. I have read about lots of new kinds of treatments for PTS, and depression (2 separate issues). Some places offer free services and the Marine Corps has an anonymous hot line where you can talk to someone without giving your name. its on the Marine Corps site and is called DSTRESSLINE. Please call them or go to any Veterans hospital.

     They are really working hard at getting this issue resolved. Almost 20% of all those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are hidden wounded warriors. I will add you to my prayer list. Someone is waiting for you to call. Do it for your children and do it for YOU! Thank you, Marine, for fighting in my place. I wouldn’t have been able to get over the first obstacle at boot camp. :)

    By the way, neuro/biofeedback has been helping Vietnam vets with their PTS, so there is help, and most of all, hope which leads to peace, and joy.

  • Sewilliams61

    I would like to donate Christmas presents to Brian’s daughter, but I don’t know how to go about doing it.  Please offer any suggestions

  • Tameekas

    dey shood bees gettin didilbilitys or welfare dey should not have to work dey owe us 

  • Cobe

    The veterans in the piece probably do deserve some sort of help, but no more than the average high school drop out. You come out of the military with no transferable skills and that’s a problem, your problem. And for those ex military who couldn’t make it a career you’ll find it even tougher in the real world. There is no one to take care of you.

  • Carolyn CJ Jones

    Wow! This is great that you did this! How is it working now at this point in time?

  • stephine

    they were ugly

  • jace

    your a bitch and deserve to get your ass beat