I would like to apologize to all of you for being gone so long, but we have been conducting some very intense investigations that have required a tremendous amount of time and resources. In this column I will discuss the results of a recent 7 1/2-month investigation.
Almost a year ago, one of my friends (I will call him Joe, though he could be a man or a woman) returned from serving his third tour overseas. Joe contacted me about how difficult it was for him to find a job. I was stunned and I didn’t believe him at first.
Joe was a veteran with considerable computer and management skills that I thought would make him a shoe-in for any job. In addition, Joe is White.
Given his training and experience, Joe couldn’t understand why he was not able to find employment. He informed me that several of his fellow military comrades were also having difficulty finding employment, so he asked me to conduct an investigation. We did.
We used three White, two Black, and two Latino veterans to conduct our investigation into why the unemployment rate for recent veterans is between 12 and 15 percent in Minnesota and nationally, which is two to three times the rate for the general population in Minnesota (currently 5.7 percent). I was extremely shocked by the results of our investigation. I was even more disturbed by what we found during this investigation than by any others we have done thus far.
Over the past 7 1/2 months, our veterans applied for a combined 383 jobs. For each of the jobs that they applied for, they met and often exceeded the minimum job requirements.
In most cases, our vets were unable to even secure an interview. Each veteran attempted to contact the prospective employer and inquire as to why they were not hired or given an interview. In most cases, they were given the runaround, but in those cases when they were able to speak with someone, we found a rather disturbing trend.
We found that most employers are afraid to hire veterans, and as a result they discriminate against them. Yes, you read that right. The very laws that are set in place to protect veterans in terms of employment may be the reason so many veterans are not getting employment.
As a veteran, when you apply for jobs you are often given veteran preference points on your application, and if you are deployed your employer has to allow you to return to work once your deployment has ended. Also, in most cases, terminating a veteran is a little bit more difficult then terminating a non-veteran.
Of the employers who we were able to speak with, the primary reason that they didn’t hire one of our veterans was because of these laws, and surprisingly it didn’t matter what race they were — all of the veterans were subjected to the same discrimination equally.
One employer said to one of our veterans, “When are you getting deployed again? I don’t want to hire you and have you go someplace for a year, and on top of that have to hold your job for you when you’re gone. Will you sign something saying that you won’t sue us if we don’t have a job for you when you get back? I want to help my country and all, but I can’t afford to keep your job while you’re off in the desert someplace.”
The statement of this employer to one of our veterans was repeated in some way, shape or form by multiple employers. These employers are cowards, but unfortunately they hold the cards. You can’t force an employer to hire someone.
I write this column knowing that many people reading it will not sympathize with these veterans. Our military currently has about 3.6 million members, which is roughly one percent of our population. One percent of our population is fighting these wars and keeping us safe.
The military is not the “White Man’s Army”; it is everyone’s army. Blacks comprise approximately 19 percent of the military. Members of the military don’t get rich, and they don’t have all of the benefits that people think they have.
Some may read this and wonder why these women and men don’t go work for the government, since they already have experience. Well, that would be fine and dandy, but the government is cutting jobs left and right because those who claim to be patriotic often are only so in words.
These “patriots,” as they call themselves, don’t hire our veterans because it affects their bottom line. They cut our veterans’ benefits because they don’t want to raise taxes on the wealthy. They cut government jobs because everyone who works for the government is a slug in their eyes, and more often than not they start the conflicts that put these veterans’ lives at risk.
I guess our veterans will have to re-enlist to get a job. All six of our veteran investigators did just that and will soon be deployed again for the second or third time. Tragic!
Booker T Hodges welcomes reader responses to [email protected]