Sgt. Lindsay Freeland was used to being one of the guys. She served alongside them in Afghanistan, sharing most responsibilities. But back home, Freeland and her fellow female vets are facing new battles: finding a job, she told CBS.
With the unemployment rate for female vets more than double than that of their male counterparts in September alone, many are seeking self-employment as an alternative. But a new partnership is doing something to give these entrepreneurs a boost.
Capital One Financial Corporation and nonprofit Count Me In For Women's Economic Independence have partnered to launch the Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC), a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening the skills of current female veteran entrepreneurs and to create more jobs for this demographic.
Female vets face a unique set of challenges. National Guard Sgt. Anna Rutherford, a communications specialist, told CBS that some employers may feel threatened by her background.
"I would definitely say the employers might be intimidated by a female who's very aggressive, very outgoing, somebody who is a very take-charge type female," she said.
WVEC is acting on more than a hunch to back up its initiative. In a recent survey conducted, 55 percent of women veterans said the leadership skills they gained from military experience pushed them to pursue self-employment, NBC reports.
Participants are coached in marketing, technology and business-building techniques to ensure their success and help them avoid common mistakes. For instance, 45 percent of the women surveyed said they didn’t make short-term business plans -- something that can deeply impact a budding business’s growth, according to Yahoo Finance.
Capital One has pledged $800,000 towards the program, which is hosting a conference and business-pitch competition in December to kickstart its initiative. Besides workshops and lectures, competition finalists will receive marketing materials and further training to boost their business goals.
Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, who is on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, doesn’t see the employment situation improving anytime soon for women veterans, making initiatives like WVEC even more valuable, she says.
"Female veterans I think feel like, they've kind of been the forgotten patriots," Congresswoman Sanchez told CBS in July. Back then, the unemployment rate was 10.8 percent for females, in September it was 13.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. "I think you're gonna see increasing numbers continue to struggle."