Forward Observer — Doing Better in Veterans Employment Efforts

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Veterans Employment

LVMAC Poster Art 2005The Good:  As far as websites go, the new website My Next Move for Veterans, which tries to automatically relate military occupational specialties with civilian careers plus provide advice on the future prospects of those career fields, identify their characteristics,  salaries, educational requirements and apprenticeship programs  — and then even goes further in helping you locate actual job offerings in a state or zip code area —  is a long sought idea come to fruition.

The Department of Labor is to be commended  — though one could hope for the day when military very good re-credentialing sites such as the Army’s and Navy COOL sites and job banks such as My Skills My Future, the Veterans Job Bank, and other state and national job banks are all consolidated seamlessly, so one could ensure he  or she is not missing something if one or the other is overlooked.

The Bad:  The timing could not be better.  Any tool that assists in preparing for and finding jobs is most welcome, for employment opportunities for veterans have been at their lowest in decades in the Lehigh Valley for a variety of reasons, not all related to the availability of jobs themselves  — scarce as the good ones are.  As we previously reported, Senator Casey reported on the number of out-of-work veterans in Pennsylvania in November of last year.  Of local counties in the Lehigh Valley region, Lehigh was the highest with 3,328 unemployed veterans and Northampton had 2,520 unemployed veterans.  Such numbers put the Lehigh and Northampton counties in or near the top quartile of counties with unemployment problems for our veterans.  The unemployment rate for younger veterans has been  particularly acute in recent reports, but the general scene has been sufficiently bad to be worrisome for the first time in memory.

The Ugly:  One cannot say the same for the Department of Labor Veterans Gold Card Program which provides to post-9/11 veterans six months of case management and counseling at career centers (CareerLinks in Pennsylvania).  This joint effort of the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) is simply nothing more than selective re-targeting of effort  — not really a new program at all.  The current war veteran has the emotional draw earlier eras have not had since World War II — especially the younger veteran.

There needs to be a deeper sense of responsibility, considering how the funding is calculated, to all veterans who are unemployed.    The  state labor programs financed through the federal government for veterans need questioning generally and now is the time.  The wider-ranging Jobs for Veterans Act  has been on the books since November 2002 (P.L. 107-288/H.R.4015) and it already required priority of service to veterans when it came to employment, training, and placement services.  Its impact?  Nothing one can really detect in Pennsylvania, for example.  It needs full resuscitation, not just for a select few.

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RJH

16 January 2012

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