The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans has been steadily declining. But those who are still out of work say that they face discrimination, and are often only offered jobs that are beneath their expertise level.
According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for vets who served at any time since September 2001 dropped to 9 percent last year, down from 9.9 percent in 2012. While the improved rates are heartening, vets who are struggling to find work don’t yet see a light at the end of the tunnel.
To demonstrate the deep personal struggles unemployed veterans face and the value they can bring to the workplace, the Call of Duty Endowment -- a nonprofit that offers job placement programs for vets -- gave jobless servicemen and servicewomen the chance to candidly share their experiences.
"I have a Purple Heart because I was wounded in combat," one veteran shared. He thought potential employers would embrace his skills and say, "Hey, man, you’re a warrior. That’s pretty awesome. Come on board. You’re good."
But he, like the other jobless vets interviewed, didn’t get the reaction he had anticipated.
Instead, they’re either turned away or are often offered menial, low-paying work.
One Marine was offered a job mopping floors. Another was offered a $9-an-hour security position, which the employer thought would be "perfect" for her since she would get to "hold a gun again."
Part of the problem, the veterans shared, is that employers have a preconceived notion of how "damaged" vets might be because of post-traumatic stress disorder.
"It’s not Hollywood PTSD," another veteran shared. "People see these movies, these guys freaking out and think I’m the same way."
There is evidence validating their suspicions.
Back in 2012, researchers from the Center for New American Security, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, interviewed executives from 69 leading corporations, including Bank of America, Target and Walmart. They all noted that hiring veterans can be a good business move, but more than half said they had reservations because the way of the PTSD is portrayed in the media and in films, USA Today reported.
The veterans who were interviewed said they felt hiring managers are wary of them, and fear that they’ve been brainwashed, are uneducated and will "snap" at any moment.
They also noted that they have a work ethic and a drive that distinguish them from other candidates. They just need a chance to prove it.
"We’re not looking for special handouts," one veteran said in the video. "Just a nudge in the right direction because we’ve been doing some other things that you guys haven’t."