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Private and public employers are looking for former military members and military spouses. Photo credit: JBLM PAO

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Military veterans often have had higher levels of unemployment than the general population.

Through federal programs and nonprofit initiatives, however, more private sector employers are stepping up to put veterans to work.

For the second quarter of 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the overall veteran unemployment rate hit a 10-year low of 3.4 percent, below the national average of four percent.

Among the 3.2 million post-9/11 veterans, however, the rate stands at 4.6 percent.

More than a quarter of a million servicemembers transition out of the military annually, and two-thirds of them leave their first post-military job within two years.

According to Anna Zogas, a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington, while the military does a good job of training recruits, it often fails at preparing soldiers to return to civilian life.

"These major life changes are challenging for military veterans, just as they are for everyone," Zogas said.

But a number of nonprofit organizations are working to connect veterans with employers. 

For example, Hire Heroes, USA has helped more than 17,000 veterans obtain gainful employment since its start in 2017.  It is now one of the largest nonprofits in its category and has an efficient approach to providing high-touch employment guidance to vets and transitioning servicemembers.

"Earning a living and finding an opportunity to excel in the civilian workforce are vital to a veteran's long-term happiness and crucial to the success of the American economy," said Brian Stann, president and CEO of Hire Heroes, USA.

Workshops offer personalized career coaching and job sourcing.  Many offer veterans one-on-one partnerships with a transition specialist that helps clients create a tailored civilian resumé, translate military experience into civilian terminology, learn effective networking skills and connect with companies that are hiring vets.

Large companies like USAA, New York Life, Hilton and CSX also have hiring programs specifically for veterans.

According to the Society for Human Resources Management, private and public employers have hired more than 1.2 million former military members and military spouses in the past five years.

Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, says military experience is valuable preparation for a successful career. "Veterans' leadership, integrity and commitment to service make them outstanding employees," he said.

He also cautions veterans to avoid the trap of thinking that job searching is harder for them than anyone else.

"Civilian employers need quality employees, and high-quality veterans generally make great employees," Stephenson said. "It is up to the individual job seeker, though, to remind employers of the strengths they offer."

CTW Features contributed to this article.

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