Unemployment and Homelessness of Veterans
Often our veterans entered the military while their peers were going to college. When veterans return to civilian life, they often find that they lag behind their peers who have gotten a college degree and/or gained work experience. We need to ensure that this “gap” does not hinder our heroes when they assimilate back into civilian life.
When our military personnel are nearing the expiration of their service, we need to provide them with the tools for successful transition into civilian life. We can achieve this goal by providing a four week transitional exit course. This would be mandatory for every military personnel preparing to separate from the military and transition back into civilian life. The course would cover mental health evaluations, evaluations for college courses/career counseling, how to register for college courses, how to choose a major that is right for you, assistance with filling out college application and the application letters, how to construct a resume and cover letter, where to look for jobs (especially ones that hire veterans), how to dress and act on a job interview, how to find housing resources, how to make a budget, opening a back account (if one isn’t already open), and so much more.
This transitional exit course is meant to fill in the gaps that the veteran may have from going straight from parental custody to military custody. This can help to ease the “culture shock” that many experience when trying to adjust to a civilian life on their own, which many have never experienced.
Veterans should be automatically signed up for employment assistance through the VA (Veterans Affairs) for at least one year after separation from the military, with ongoing employment assistance on an as-needed basis after the first year. This is to ensure that we continue to work with the veteran to make the transition as smooth as possible.
The VA already has a program for Transitioning Service Members. However, it appears to be something that is merely “available”. It should be made mandatory, to ensure that every transitioning service member has access to the resources and have a clear understanding of where all their resources are for future reference. The burden should not be on the veteran to seek out the assistance. The burden should be on our military personnel to ensure that every veteran has had the assistance given.
The VA would be directed to open a job listing site specifically for veterans to access and a housing site specifically for veterans. These sites would allow for veterans to be able to locate veteran-friendly employers and veteran-friendly housing to make transition, and the years following transition, much easier. It would also be available for veterans who have been out of the military for years or decades, but are struggling with finding work or housing.
One of the benefits we must be able to provide for our veterans is relocation assistance. After a veteran has been out of the military, he or she may suffer job loss or a challenging economic period. If the veteran is struggling to find work near his or her home, but there are jobs available in another state, the VA would be able to provide relocation assistance in the form of an interest-free loan so the veteran can get relocated and working as soon as possible.
Any veteran found to be homeless should immediately be brought in for evaluations so we can assess his or her individual needs and serve those needs, whether it is health care, mental health, drug rehabilitation, finding work, financial assistance, and so forth. Our veterans deserve so much more than to be living on the street. We must intervene, without judgement, and get them whatever assistance they need, regardless of how long they have been out of the military. Once a veteran, always a veteran!