The risks and opportunities facing Veterans aged 40+
Imagine what would happen if decades ago, we knew that there would be a pronounced suicide dilemma among military Veterans, but we had the opportunity to remedy the situation before it became a true problem. Would we have taken action or would we have still proceeded with the same outcome? This Veterans Day we see another problem on the horizon that will affect far more Veterans yet it is something that is far more addressable than the complexities influencing suicide. That pending issue is the long-term employment of older military Veterans.
In a nutshell, military Veterans bring the intangible skills to a job that all employers desire; however veterans in their 40’s to 60’s are getting left behind by the rapid advancement of job skills and technology. With no corrective action within a decade we will have hundreds of thousands of military Veterans either unemployed or under-employed.
People often debate whether it is mental health, housing, or employment that is the greatest stabilizing factor that enables a Veteran to contribute to society and live productively. No matter your opinion, it is hard to deny that gainful employment creates stability in the life of an aging Veteran, it provides a positive outlet, a purpose in life, and self-sufficiency for living and healthcare outside of the government.
More so than broader societal effects are the impact on the individual transitioned service member. Veterans sometimes struggle with the lack of mission or purpose once they’ve hung up their uniform. A meaningful, quality job can provide that purpose and become a positive outlet for that veteran in their life.
What can we do?
The initial work should focus on skills development for these experienced Veterans. Reskilling can be achieved through partnership with industries facing critical labor shortages. It also must leverage existing nonprofits in educational programs that can meet the workforce development needs and prepare these older Veterans for the workforce.
In conjunction, we need to work with employers. They are facing a critical shortage to support economic growth as the number of younger workers is on the decline. As they source new talent employers need to create dedicated efforts to help train and hire older Veterans.
Because Veterans can be concentrated in urban areas as well as spread out in rural communities this effort needs to be done with both in-classroom opportunities and virtual learning.
Through high leverage partnerships with employers and communities, these experienced Veterans can be turned into a greater asset to fuel growth of cities and corporations. And in doing so, their service is not only repaid but they are given the opportunity to continue to serve others and strengthen our country.
About the Authors
Gary A. Officer is President and CEO of Senior Services America, Inc., the nation’s largest nonprofit dedicated exclusively to economic opportunity for low-income, older workers. During the last five decades, SSAI has partnered with more than 5,000 employers to train nearly half-a-million worker. Gary is deeply invested is supporting the military community. SSAI has served nearly 60,000 Veterans and Gary led an effort to rebuild over 2,000 homes of military Veterans.
Tom Aiello is a disabled military veteran who has chosen a vocation of finding credible, authentic ways to reach and help veterans. He started the company MARCH Marketing, to help organizations work with the military and veteran community. His expertise in military, marketing, employment and veteran challenges enables a unique perspective on veteran issues. Tom has helped employers hire over 50,000 vets and raised $118 million for community programs, helping more than 110,000 military and veteran families. For more information, please visit www.marchcorp.com.