Despite the strength in numbers and skill sets offered by recently transitioned veterans, some find difficulty translating military skills to the civilian world, according to a study published Tuesday by the San Diego Workforce Partnership.
The group is examining the state of employment for veterans in San Diego County, and why veterans, on average, are 16% more likely to experience unemployment than their non-veteran peers.
Some veterans struggle with lack of networking opportunities with non-veterans and not being able to get across the "soft skills" the partnership finds in veterans such as discipline, reliability and resilience, the study suggests.
Even more damaging could be stereotypes and stigmas.
"While the U.S. military remains a respected institution with its members touted as 'heroes,' there are also perceptions of veterans revolving around PTSD, mental and emotional instability, suicide and violence -- as victims who require assistance to be successful in civilian life," the report found.
Veterans have long received priority access to existing workforce services, but the region must proactively address the challenges of translation, networks and stigmas if it wants to have an impact, the partnership said.
"If we allow our veterans' contributions to the community to stop when they take off the uniform, we aren't just doing the individuals a disservice, we are missing out on the kind of talented managers, analysts, teachers and scientists that our community needs to grow," said Melanie Hitchcock, Navy veteran and manager of programs at the San Diego Workforce Partnership.
"In a highly competitive environment where employers demand essential skills, such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration and dependability, we have failed to see how the same individuals who protected our nation can enable our community to thrive," she said.
The partnership is planning a collaboration with Solutions for Information Design on opportunities to connect MilGears, the Navy's career development and transition system to its career search tool, My Next Move.
This integration could allow Workforce Partnership to better understand veterans transitioning from the Navy and use that information to help them find meaningful employment using their skills and experience, the group said.
The report can be viewed here.