Tim Embrey told a key congressional committee recently that "Unemployment rates are staggering and rising" for veterans, such as himself, of Afghanistan and Iraq. "We are failing because we are not doing enough."
While the new GI Bill does provide more money for tuition, books and housing for veterans attending four-year institutions, it does not cover apprenticeships, certification programs and technical skills that many veterans would use to improve their employment opportunities, he said at the House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.
Complicating matters for veterans from the reserve components is employer’s wariness about hiring them if they are likely to be deployed soon.
Marshall Hanson of the Reserve Officers Association said, "Even the most patriotic employers are feeling fatigued by repeated deployments. He cited a recent survey in which employers said they would not hire a member of the reserves if they could be deployed.
"Veterans who also are drilling members of the selected reserve are hurting their chances of employment" if they tell potential employers of their status, Peter Duffy of the National Guard Association of the United States said.
Embrey, who is a member of the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America, said even getting hired in the public sector is difficult. "How does the veterans’ preference really work? What does it mean" to someone seeking a job? Adding, "If you take out DoD and VA, there are not a lot of vets" in federal agencies.
"We’ve got to get more vets hired in the private sector," Justin Brown from the Veterans of Foreign Wars said. "We need help from the top down … to hiring managers, to human relations folks, that they really do know the law" on preference in hiring in the federal government and re-employment rights of returning reservists.