It’s never been much of a secret. I’m not a wealthy man.
Recently, I’ve reentered the job market. The majority of my income in previous years has come from a variety of different places. I’ve taken pictures for publications and written papers. I’ve worked on political campaigns. I’ve even done some odd jobs on several occasions. Whatever keeps food on the table. Right?
What I can tell you is that during this latest search, the job market for veterans in the metropolitan area is not an easy one.
Sure, there is plenty of goodwill out there. Companies like to hire veterans because it’s good PR and most of us are eager to do a good job. We’re hard workers.
The problem is that most of these jobs don’t really use our skills and pay under $12 an hour. These are hospitality jobs, low end sales, and security.
Now if you’re younger and single, this isn’t necessarily a disaster. If you can manage to navigate the administrative red tape and find the time to go to school, you can use your GI Bill.
If you’ve got a family. Then things get really tough.
You’re very likely to fall into the same challenges many of Orlando residents are currently going through. High rent costs, low wages, expensive day care bills.
It’s even worse for this group because they were not properly prepared for transition to civilian life by the military before they got out. That falls squarely on them.
You’re also looking at more challenges if you’re older and have slipped into depression and alcoholism. This is the slope that sadly results in many homeless vets.
The real solution here on the local level deciphering the military jargon into quality jobs in the civilian world.
Despite my eight years working in military HR, I’m not qualified for a civilian HR job. This is the same for many military jobs that don’t match up with their private sector equivalent.
Honorably discharged combat arms service members should be aggressively recruited by law enforcement upon reentering the orbit here in Orlando. I say this because combat arms is often the most difficult skill to place in the civilian job market. Of course if they want to do something else they can.
Companies with government contracts should be reaching out to all service members for appropriate positions. There should be mail going out to the known addresses of soon to be discharged soldiers advertising positions that match their occupational specialty. If you were a logistical specialist in the Army, you should have the chance for serious consideration on the outside as well.
Finally, the VA must be more pro active with their communications of soldiers coming back home and offer real solutions to their challenges. Despite their communications, they are still failing terribly at this. Health care, educational benefits, small business assistance, they must improve at all of it.
If you can keep Orlando veterans working, they will succeed. We just have to create an environment where they’re given the opportunity to.