While many across this country are celebrating and appreciating our active-duty service members and veterans this month, as they should be, there are some sobering points reported from the Postsecondary National Policy Institute:
Student veterans report difficulties transitioning from a military style of technical learning and a hierarchical organizational structure to a university learning environment.
Student veterans often face mental health challenges. Between 7% and 8% of student service members and veterans reported a past suicide attempt and up to 35% reported having suicidal ideations.
Military service members and veterans relocate often due to service, and these frequent moves make it challenging for veterans to establish residency in any one state for purposes of qualifying for in-state tuition rates at public institutions.
A large part of serving in America’s military is moving across the country, and sometimes overseas. For both of us, frequent moves from army and navy posts to posts were the best parts of military experience, even as the spouse. Throughout our service, we lived in places that most can only dream of. Between us, we’ve travelled across the world, open to opportunities, with locals’ points of view.
But, over the course of a long military career, families pick up, pack up, and move several times over. Each of these moves disrupts each member of the families’ lives. And while the travels are unforgettable, the intellectual journey of education can be continuously interrupted. And because of deployments while in higher education, some veterans experience the loss of scholarships, tuition dollars, and academic credits during the academic school year.
Choosing the right higher education path involves several choices which veterans might not be ready for just yet, especially if the wrong choice is expensive. The likelihood of choice hasn’t traditionally seen great rates of success at college according to The Atlantic. It’s no wonder that the best graduation rate for service members is only 20 percent. As Jon Marcus reported, the total amount of GI Bill money may be large, but overall student success is quite small.
Military individuals and their families need a college that understands our types of lifestyles. A place that supports us from day one throughout our entire lives- through continuing education, in addition to good, high-paying jobs.
Veteran underemployment has severe consequences, and not just for the veteran. The impact carries through their families, their communities, and our businesses. Underemployment of veterans winds up costing the employer more over time.
But, there are many actions employers can take to ensure veterans aren’t being left out. It takes less time for a hiring manager to call and ask a veteran to give a brief of their skills than it does to wade through thousands of applicants who made it through the filters but are not even remotely qualified for a position.
Companies must shift and allow their hiring managers the freedom to explore a military veteran’s background. The return on investment will be exponentially greater when on average, veterans perform at higher levels and have lower turnover:
Veterans remain with the companies that initially employ them 8.3% longer than nonveterans.
Veterans have unique and valuable skills to bring to any number of roles within a company.
Military experience exposes individuals to advanced technology and technical training.
The military employs people in all professional fields, at every possible career level, yet veterans are an undervalued talent pool in today’s workforce.
These stats are the reason Unmudl and Veterans ASCEND were created and the purpose of becoming partners: to provide better education credentialing and job opportunities for military personnel. Through Unmudl, veterans and service members complete courses and gain additional skills that will help get them to their next better job or even to their first job. Through Veterans ASCEND, veterans are connected directly to employers who are intentional about aligning the skills they have - both on and off duty.
We still have more work to do, but we are proud of the businesses we’ve built to support America’s veterans. Today and each day, we are thankful for all veterans as we live in the land of the free because of the brave. And we must continue using those freedoms to better connect education to the workforce, especially for America’s servicemembers, both past and present.
Parminder K. Jassal is the founder and CEO of Unmudl Skills-to-Jobs Marketplace powered by America’s community colleges and a U.S. Army veteran spouse. Robyn Grable is the founder and CEO of Veterans ASCEND, in addition to being a U.S. Navy veteran and human resources professional.