It should be a point of national shame that the unemployment rate for military veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq (or both) since Sept. 11, 2001 — known as "Gulf War II veterans" — is well above the national average. It's nearly 10 percent for veterans vs. 7 percent for the population as a whole.
It should go without saying that we owe these men and women our best effort at welcoming them back into the civilian economy with a job. It clearly would help this effort if employers and policy-makers understood the training and experience that veterans bring to the table.
That's the subject of a report, "Denying Credit: The Failure to Transition Troops to Civilian Employment," released last week by the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center in West Haven. (The report is available here.) The report identifies which military occupational specialties, known as MOS, that the state's Gulf II veterans have held.
Here's how this information might be helpful:
The list shows the state has a good number of vets who worked in the health field. What officials could do is align the state's licensing requirements to military training and experience where possible, so veterans can transfer to parallel civilian occupations. This is also true of truck drivers, embalmers, explosives experts and dozens of other specialties.
By the same token, there are some specialties without immediate civilian application — there isn't much demand for helicopter door gunners, for example — and some for which the job market is anemic (also in the report). Knowing this, state leaders can plan education and training requirements for other jobs accordingly.
It is puzzling that this hasn't been done before now, after 12 years of war. A federal law passed in 2011 to improve the transition from military service to civilian employment has yet to produce a MOS report. Last spring, the Connecticut General Assembly established a task force to study the use of MOS training as a substitute for state licensing requirements, with a report due in the 2014 legislative session.
A MOS analysis won't solve veterans' unemployment overnight, but it will help.Copyright © 2015, CT Now