Updated October 22, 2012As tens of thousands of men and women in the military begin the transition from active duty to "normal life," the challenges of finding a job are great. In its most recent unemployment report (for January 2012), the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated the unemployment rate among Gulf veterans (who served since 2001) at 9.1 percent, almost 10 percent higher than the overall national average.
In November 2011, President Obama signed the "VOW to Hire Heroes Act" which will give tax credits to companies that hire unemployed and disabled veterans. And last month, the Disabled Veterans National Foundation launched an effort to connect veterans to the employment services provided by that act.
The transition from military life to civilian life — and into a career — can be a tough one, especially for solders who were injured. The Pew Research Center found that 54% of those seriously injured and 24% of those not seriously injured reported having trouble readjusting to civilian life.
Fortunately, advances in broadband and computer technology have helped to create options for education, job training and employment that may help make that transition easier. We’re talking about learning and working from home.
What many veterans may not know is that online learning can be an excellent way for them to more quickly and affordably get the education they may need in order to land a job or try to better their current employment situation. Taking online courses, either toward a degree or a particular trade certification, can be a great way to ease the transition: classes are taken online from the veteran's home on a schedule that works best for them. eLearners.com is a free site that connects people looking for online classes with more than 200 colleges and universities offering them. eLearners.com has created an in-depth Military Education Benefits guide to provide active duty men and women and veterans with a wealth of information and advice on possibly bettering their job prospects through online learning.
In addition to helping to match our military with schools offering courses in their particular field of study, the eLearners.com guide has information and advice on a number of ways veterans can get the most out of the benefits provided to them. For example:
--Veterans can get actual college credit for their real life experience by taking what's called a CLEP test (College Level Examination Program). For example, if a degree program requires a foreign language class, veterans who learned a foreign language as part of their military service may be able to get credit for that knowledge if they perform well on the CLEP test. Best of all, for most military members, the test is free (or reimbursed by the Veterans Administration)
--There are several different "GI Bills" for people who served in different time periods, each with different types of benefits. The eLearners.com Military Education Benefits guide deciphers the alphabet soup and directs veterans to the different resources to help them figure out the difference between things like The GI Bill Kicker, the GI Bill Top Up, and the GI Bill Buy Up.
In addition to learning from home, there are also a growing number of options for returning veterans and others to actually work from home.
For example, companies like Arise Virtual Solutions provide work from home call center opportunities. Using a secure Internet connection and a phone line, agents handle customer service calls for some of the largest and most recognizable companies in the U.S., all from the comfort of a home office. Agents can pick the hours that work best for them: part-time, full-time, nights, weekends or holidays. This option could be particularly helpful for wounded veterans who may need to work around rehab and other appointments, and for whom accessibility in a “typical” work environment may be an issue.
Whether it’s establishing a work from home business operation or a more “traditional” business, many veterans make great entrepreneurs—and there is help for them as well. The National Veteran-Owned Business Association says one in seven veterans owns a business, and that vets are twice as likely as non-vets to own a business.
Recognizing the value of veteran-owned businesses, the U.S. Small Business Administration recently launched the Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative for veterans (or their families) who are looking to establish or expand a small business.
AccreditedOnlineColleges.org -- is a comprehensive college directory with many resources useful to prospective students and parents interested in advancing their education. A school’s accreditation status should play a large role in choosing which school to attend and this website provides the tools to make this research easier than ever. This site enables individuals to search for an institution by a number of criteria including location, subject, size, and graduation rates.
All of these resources make it clear that public and private entities in the U.S. have made a greater commitment to helping veterans transition from active duty to civilian life while recognizing the particular challenges that veterans have in making that transition.
Now, with the ability to learn and train and even work and grow a business from a home environment, veterans have an even better chance at helping themselves and their families after helping their country.