While the unemployment rate for all US military veterans continues to drop (currently hovering at 3.8%, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS), the jobless rate for Gulf-War era II veterans is still higher, at 4.5%. The good news from this US BLS report: “Veterans with a service-connected disability had an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent in August 2017, little different from veterans with no disability.”
The not-so-good news: once employed, veterans move on from their jobs at high rates. Surveys in 2016 and 2014 found that more than 40% of employed veterans left their first post-separation jobs within 12 months.
Longer-term employment retention for veterans is still an issue. RLF is looking for keys to unlock that situation from multiple aspects.
Update on RLF Employment Initiative
–Skylar Burgess, RLF Board
Resurrecting Lives Foundation’s employment team is expanding our employment initiative and looking forward to moving quickly to establishing collaborations primarily in Ohio and Georgia. “We need to refine a couple of different models, one including discharge from National Guard or Reserve service, such as we have in Ohio, and a second to involve discharge from a military base, such as Ft. Gordon in Augusta, Georgia,” says RLF founder and chair Chrisanne Gordon, MD. We held a strategy session September 10th and have determined our stated goal is “Employ veterans for a continuous 12-month period.”
We have a two-pronged approach: 1) Engage potential employers and help them understand the needs of our veterans with TBI for both initial employment and retention; 2) Engage agencies that have access to veterans to be a pipeline for the employment initiative.
Several meetings have been held with a variety of potential sourcing agencies/groups for veteran hires. These include: The Ohio State University; Mayor’s office of the City of Columbus, Ohio; Mayor’s office of the City of Augusta, Georgia; US Department of Veterans Affairs; Ohio National Guard; Cardinal Health; Columbus (Ohio) State College; Traumatic Brain Injury clinic in the Neuroscience and Rehabilitation Center at Eisenhower Army Medical Center, Fort Gordon (Georgia); Fast Switch, Ltd.
We have initiated a pilot program with Honda of America. We have been working with the above agencies to identify the unique qualifications for our primary partner, Honda. This initial pilot will help us determine how we might be able to work together to further enhance and expand opportunities for veterans. The success of this pilot will help us refine our approach and provide support to add additional employers to the mix. We will be revisiting Augusta in the near future to discuss starting a similar pilot with Fort Gordon’s TBI Clinic and the Mayor’s office.
Strategies to remain employed: Transcendental Meditation
One method for veterans to manage their lives in order to stay employed is by learning meditation. Corey O’Brien, a US Army and Ohio National Guard veteran with two tours of duty in Iraq behind him, and now a science teacher at Hamilton Township (Ohio) High School and Purple Star Liaison for Hamilton local schools, spoke about his experiences with Transcendental Meditation during the keynote address at the 2018 Cardinal Health RLF Golf Outing.
His teacher, David Kidd of Canton, Ohio, also a US Army E-5 veteran, is a champion. “Clearly, the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique makes one more employable. Repeated studies have shown increased mental clarity, and improved emotional stability, self-actualization and energy. When combined with reduced alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and depression, it is clearly conducive to helping everyone have more staying power in anything they try to do. That was my experience in the 70’s after taking the TM training following two tours in Vietnam. It changed my life.”
Through a grant last fall from RLF, matched by a grant from the David Lynch Foundation, Kidd taught TM to 19 veterans and one of their wives, who was going through her third round of having cancer and treatments. All have provided positive feedback on the technique.