You served your country proudly as a member of the armed services. You studied hard, passed a battery of tests and worked your way up in rank. You’re fully qualified to perform your military duty.
Unfortunately, now that you’re a civilian, you’re discovering that all that training and experience won’t “fit” into today’s tight job market. You’ve got plenty of military certificates that say you can operate this system and that, but you don’t have a college degree.
Your military resume often ends at the bottom of the stack, even though most companies are supposed to give you preference for your service, they often don’t. So you end up taking menial jobs for extremely low pay. It’s a story oft repeated and told by many women who served and find themselves jobless or “underemployed.”
Women currently make up 8 percent or 1.8 million of the nearly 23 million U.S. veterans. These vets seem to be struggling with unemployment not unlike male vets. The problem stems from the fact that civilian women gain civilian work experience and professional certifications that discharged vets sorely lack. In today's tough job market, that puts many women vets at a disadvantage.
Like their male counterparts, women who served are facing homelessness and unemployment. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, female veterans double their chances of becoming homeless over those who never served in the military. Compared to the 8.4 percent unemployment rate for non-veteran adult women, the unemployment rate for female veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan was 13.5 percent. In fact, female veterans who served in these two conflicts wars suffered higher unemployment rates than even female veterans of the Gulf War, the Vietnam War or the Korean War.
Today's hyper competitive job market exacerbates the situation for women without credentials, degrees and on the job civilian experience. Unless they served in a high tech MOS or worked as medics—and have a college degree to boot—the job prospects for today's women vets are tough.
Some lay the blame on a Veterans Affairs system that fails to meet women's post service needs. Female veterans battle post-traumatic stress disorder and the effects of traumatic brain injuries. While the VA and other transition services help male veterans, few are aimed uniquely at women who want to enter the civilian work force. The government's current Transition Assistance Program needs updating to help women vets with cover letters, resumes and other job seeking skills.
If you’re a transitioning woman veteran, the Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation is transforming workplaces with women and employers. Check them out.