As the U.S. prepares to celebrate military veterans on Nov. 11, many vets returning from the nation's ongoing wars continue to face a major challenge in reintegrating into civilian life: finding a job.
As of 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were about 20 million veterans alive in the U.S. The majority, an estimated 7 million, served during the Vietnam era. For the veteran population as a whole, the unemployment rate has remained lower than for non-veterans, standing at 4.7 percent in September, compared with 5.9 percent for the broader population.
More veterans are employed because "they don't mind working hard, they don't mind getting dirty, they're good leaders and they have discipline," said Ted Daywalt, president and co-founder of the employment site VetJobs.com.
"And they have the skill-sets," he told CBS MoneyWatch. "The people in construction, manufacturing can't hire veterans fast enough. Many have security clearances as well, and a clean background."
Still, the jobless rate is substantially higher for the latest generation of veterans, the so-called "post-Sept. 11" vets who served during the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Like their civilian counterparts, transitioning vets have had to deal with a slowly recovering economy, and their overall unemployment rate reportedly fell to 6.2 percent in September, down from 9.2 percent in July.
But buried in those numbers is the starkly worse employment situation of younger veterans. Daywalt notes the jobless rate for vets ages ages 18 to 24 has doubled in recent years to a whopping 20 percent. He attributes that in part to a reluctance by many companies to deal with workers in the National Guard and Reserves, many of whom have been called up for multiple deployments, sometimes lasting to two years at a time.
A larger issue is the lack of job training programs for returning veterans to help them apply their military skills to civilian jobs, Daywalt said. He posed the following question to corporate leaders: "With the labor shortage we have in U.S. today, are you willing to put in training programs to teach people the skill sets that you need in your corporation? Are you willing to fund, internally, a training program to groom these veterans to become good employees with your corporation?"
"We are, and we do," John Eydenberg, co-head of investment banking coverage for the Americas at Deutsche Bank, which supports Veterans on Wall Street, told CBS MoneyWatch in responding to that question.
Deutsche Bank is one of a number of financial institutions, behind Veterans on Wall Street (VOWS), an initiative started by corporations to help military veterans transition back into the job market. The group kicks off its fourth annual conference in New York on Wednesday, with the event including a symposium on veteran employment, as well as a resource fair.
Eydenberg said investment banks have a long and successful history of training programs for new employees, veterans and non-veterans, who are entering the financial sector. And pointing to the VOWS initiative, he noted the rest of the corporate world is also coming on board to varying degrees.
"Some people get it more than others," he said. "Some people are willing to go to greater lengths than others. Some of the retailers have programs that are sensitive to things like the spouses of vets."
Eydenberg acknowledged that there are still companies "that need to evolve, to understand the military ecosystem and how it works," when it comes to assisting both company managers and transitioning veterans in figuring out how they fit in.
But he said the VOWS initiative has been instrumental in helping educate Wall Street and corporate America about the benefits of employing vets. Eydenberg believes the next step will be "teaching companies how to go attract, train and retain vets."