Friday Focus: Women Vets Struggle for Jobs

With approximately 34,000 U.S. troops set to return from Afghanistan by 2014, scores of veterans will soon be on the hunt for civilian jobs. While unemployment for recent veterans fell last year, other reports paint a different picture for women veterans, who are struggling to find jobs that match their skills.


Credit: Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Credit: Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

During his State of the Union speech last month, President Barack Obama announced plans to reduce U.S. troops in Afghanistan by more than 50 percent. The good news for vets looking for civilian work is that unemployment dropped in 2012. The nationwide unemployment rate for veterans is actually lower, at 7 percent, compared with 7.9 percent for non-vets, CBS News reported.

Even though overall job prospects for veterans improved, female vets are still fighting for employer attention, according to statistics. While 17 percent of female vets are unemployed, that percentage drops to 11 percent for non-veteran women in the workforce, according to Medill Reports, a publication at Northwestern University’s Medill School. The publication chronicled the struggle of a 30-year-old female veteran who spent several months searching for a housekeeping job, even as she holds a master’s degree.

To help combat the female vet unemployment issue, First Lady Michelle Obama recently vowed to continue efforts to drive the Joining Forces initiative that connects servicemen and women, and veterans with employment in the U.S.

Obama honored 14 women veterans at a Champions of Change event held at the White House, where she applauded the soldiers for their roles as change leaders in the regional, local, state, and national levels, according to Defense.gov.

“…With the war in Afghanistan drawing to a close, hundreds of thousands of veterans, particularly our women veterans, are going to be looking for work and are looking for work,” the First Lady said. “Right now, we have so many talented, highly skilled veterans who have so much to offer this country. And they’re going to need that opportunity to make that happen. We need that service operating here at home.”

Obama described how she challenged chief executive officers representing over 80 businesses to hire and train more vets and military spouses at a recent Business Roundtable.

Other efforts to help female vets are also underway, such as Corporate America Supports You (CASY), which helps ex-servicewomen meet their specific career needs. Statewide efforts include The Women Veterans’ Network, which primarily helps those residing in Massachusetts but is open to all women vets around the country who need career help.

All vets can check out additional employment resources here.

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