Labor Day and Veterans: What Will Their Future Be?

Designed to be a celebration of the American workers and their contributions to our country’s economy, we gather on Labor Day for family cook-outs and rest. The holiday was meant to acknowledge that we live in a country of opportunities and possible occupations. Is that how a returning military member might view Labor Day?

In a slow economic recovery, how will veterans cope with finding employment?

Hire a veteran.
What do employers need to know to hire a veteran? (photo courtesy of

General consensus touts our country seems to be in a slow economic recovery. Some experts say gradual improvement will occur over the next few years. What about our veterans and their potential to join the labor force? What will their future be like? Will there be a place for them in America’s economy?

Notably the rate of veterans’ unemployment has declined in the past few months.

I know this is due to many employers who have stepped up to make sure our veterans have meaningful jobs. These employers recognize they require income to live and support their families. Although our female veterans have not fared quite as well, I am encouraged about the overall picture of veterans being employed.

However, the Defense Business Board, a group of 20 senior private sector executives who advise the Pentagon on veterans employment issues, have brought an alarming statistic to the attention of the Pentagon leadership. Their prediction states the military will transition up to 800 service members per day over the next 2-3 years. Because of the volume of jobs needed, unemployment problems will burgeon for veterans in the midst of a slowly recovering economy.

Will there be a national movement to help our veterans and their families?

I am hopeful we will see a national strategy not only to assist veterans in finding employment, but work in an environment that will support their strengths and abilities.

However, the concern remains, as veterans return from the field of battle, many return with significant set of issues that require attention and processing so they may have the best chance for success. They (and their families) face more than issues surrounding employment and economic stability. But considering employment alone:

Offering a veteran a good job is a great thing but. . .

If employers do not have awareness and understanding of the needs of post-war veterans and do not provide an environment sensitive to their issues, they may create a cycle of failure. Without knowing how to avoid this cycle of failure, they may instead thwart the confidence and productivity of our veterans in the labor force.

It may be that by next Labor Day we will see a new day for veterans transitioning into the labor force. With commitments from employers and some specific training for those who work with our veterans, we can provide meaningful employment and work environments in which our returning veterans can thrive and support their families. That will certainly make their Labor Day a true day of enjoyment and celebration.

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

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