The United States Military is great at training soldiers, but it’s not very good at reintegrating troops back into civilian life. Former service members don’t have much time to switch gears before the bills start coming due, and that makes the job search an immediate priority. However, other than a small group of industries like law enforcement, nursing and security contracting, veterans struggle to find satisfying jobs when they come home.
While they have excellent training, veterans usually lack the credentials and documented employment history they need to compete for desirable positions. Hiring managers often brush off military experience entirely, at least partly because the terms, tasks and ranks are so foreign to them that they don’t know how to translate the veteran’s skills to a corporate setting. And while former service members are more than qualified for entry level positions, that leads to a problem called “under-employment,” where highly trained war heroes are stuck flipping burgers and stocking grocery shelves. It’s estimated that 33% of veterans are in jobs that underutilize them.
This isn’t so much the case in Law Enforcement, which has a long history of hiring veterans. Both police officers and soldiers often begin with a desire to serve their community and country, and so the workplace culture and values blend nicely. A veteran’s physical aptitudes, team mentality and finesse under pressure make them assets to any police precinct. And many former service members feel at home transitioning from the armed forces into law enforcement.
But even in the police force, stigmas about veterans pose challenges to getting hired. Police departments have become heavily politicized. And unfortunately, already troubling statistics about the mental health of United States Veterans are often inaccurately sensationalized by our media. That means a bad judgement call or a PTSD episode by an officer can quickly become national news, creating a PR crisis for the precinct and, tragically, reinforcing negative stereotypes about veterans and cops across the country.
Like police and corrections officers, veterans tend to avoid reporting or seeking treatment for their mental health. This can cause PTSD from their military deployments to get worse during their time in law enforcement. Studies show that veterans in the police force are over 20% more likely to commit suicide than police officers with civilian backgrounds. And this is one reason that many veterans, while well equipped for Law Enforcement and Security Positions, want to do something completely different.
There was a time in this country when veterans had their pick of jobs. But nowadays, the nation needs to give back to its protectors and make sure they have the help they need. Organizations like The FMRT Group can provide high quality screening for veteran applicants, and more importantly, provide them with the effective mental health treatment they need. Post-Deployment Appointments offer military professionals a confidential opportunity to speak with culturally competent psychologists after returning from active duty and before returning to work in the public sector.
Other groups like Veterans At Work and Hire Heroes USA can help vets get hired, and offer consultants to guide both former service members and employers to a mutual workplace opportunity. If you’re interested, click on some of these links or research other veteran assistance groups, and learn how you can volunteer to serve your service members.