Military service is hindering the employability and private sector transitioning of veterans, according to some top U.S. economists. They claim that through service to the country, veterans are unable to achieve the private sector experience necessary in transitioning from post-military service, a statement that has raised plenty of heat from those unwilling to call out anything anti-U.S. troops.
According to former Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, many veterans are not doing well when they retire from active service. Speaking at a Brookings Institution event in August, Bernanke said, “If you go into the military at age 18—versus an identical person who stays in the private sector and takes a private sector job—10 years later, if you leave the military, your skills and wages are probably not going to be quite as high on average as the private-sector person..”
The former Federal Reserve chair said military service budgetary maintenance would be better spent if the service men were trained on entering the private sector once they left service. Speaking at the event themed “defense spending and its economic impacts,” Bernanke referred to the average unemployment rate of veterans at 7 percent, much higher than the national average of 5.3 percent.
Critics have come forward arguing that Bernanke’s statements were incorrect and that the military was not hurting the employment prospects of its veterans. Fred Wellman, a 22 year-old army veteran serving as the chief executive of ScoutComms, an advocacy group for veterans, said on Foreign Policy, “I am not sure where Mr. Bernanke got his information, but the current numbers just don’t reflect saying military service does not help you succeed in the private sector. The most current surveys show that veterans are far more likely to be employed than non-veterans and earn higher median incomes in those jobs.”
Another veteran, Robert L. Gordon II, a retired Army colonel, and head of advocacy group Got Your 6, wrote in the Huffington Post that Bernanke’s statements fed into a misplaced myth that veterans were “broken heroes.” Gordon even went ahead to state that unemployment figures among veterans, from the Bureau of Statistics, were actually lower than the national average.
Gordon attributed Bernanke’s figure of 7 percent was limited only to veterans returning to the private sector post 9/11, while his own figure tracked veterans since World War II.
Away from the exchange of figures and statistics, the plight of the U.S’s veterans is a topic almost never talked about. Only through open dialogue can the unemployment rates among those who have served their country be reduced.