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CRS — Employment for Veterans: Trends and Programs

December 12, 2012

Employment for Veterans: Trends and Programs (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via University Professional & Continuing Education Association)

Veterans’ employment outcomes in the civilian labor market are an issue of ongoing congressional interest. This report offers introductory data on veterans’ performance in the civilian labor market as well as a discussion of veteran-targeted federal programs that provide employment-related benefits and services.

According to federal data, the unemployment rate for veterans who served after September 2001 is higher than the unemployment rate for nonveterans. Conversely, the unemployment rate for veterans from prior service periods (a much larger population than post-9/11 veterans) is lower than the nonveteran unemployment rate. The varied demographic factors of each of these populations likely contribute to these variations, though their degree of influence is unclear. There are a number of federal programs to assist veterans in developing job skills and securing civilian employment. Broadly speaking, these programs can be divided into (1) general veterans’ programs, (2) programs that target veterans with service-connected disabilities, and (3) competitive grant programs that offer supplemental services but may be limited in scope.

General veterans’ programs begin with transition programs that are provided to exiting members of the Armed Forces. These transition programs cover a variety of topics including information on identifying occupations that align with military skills and specializations, conducting job searches, applying for employment, and navigating veterans’ benefits. One of the most common veterans’ benefits is educational funding through the GI Bill. The GI Bill programs typically provide funding for education or training programs as well as housing allowance while the veteran is enrolled. Veterans who are no longer eligible for the GI Bill may receive training benefits through the newly created Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP).

Veterans who are seeking employment without obtaining additional training may receive job search assistance and other services from Local Veterans Employment Representatives (LVER). Veterans who wish to pursue employment in the federal government are assisted by several policies that give them preference in the competitive hiring process or, in some cases, allow them to forego the competitive process and be appointed directly.

Veterans with service-connected disabilities who have obstacles to employment may be assisted by the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program. This program provides assistance in identifying an occupation that is consistent with the veterans’ skills and interests and providing the services (including educational services) necessary to achieve that outcome. Disabled veterans can also receive assistance from the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP), which provides assistance in local labor markets.

In addition to these nationwide programs, the federal government also funds competitive grant programs for state, local, and private entities to provide employment-oriented services to veterans. These include the Veterans Workforce Investment Program (VWIP), which may provide training or employment services and Veterans Upward Bound (VUB), which prepares educationally disadvantaged veterans for postsecondary coursework.

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