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Veterans have a wealth of opportunities to enter the civilian workforce upon discharge from military service. In addition to veteran's benefit programs such as the Montgomery GI Bill, there are other government and private programs designed to help veterans build their vocational and job-seeking skills.

5 Crucial Veteran Employment Programs

It's no secret that some veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and other newly discharged vets have had difficulty adjusting to roles in the civilian workforce.

According to a recent study conducted by insurance giant Prudential, there were roughly 783,000 unemployed veterans in March of 2013, including more than 207,000 veterans who served after 9/11.

High unemployment for discharged service members exists for a number of reasons. For many, the highly regimented military life, with its strict hierarchy and extensive rules dictating personal and professional conduct, provided stability and structure for military personnel, especially those who enter service at a young age and haven't experienced the freedoms -- and pitfalls -- of civilian life. As these veterans transition away from military life, they often require assistance adjusting to a new way of living.

There are many different career-training programs in place designed to help veterans ease into the civilian workforce. And many private firms actively recruit veterans for the well of skills they built while in military service, including strong work ethic, ability to follow direction, leadership and perseverance.

Vocational opportunities for veterans

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has several programs that provide work assistance to qualifying veterans and provides tax credits and other financial incentives to employers who hire veterans. In addition to job training, qualifying veterans can get help with employment accommodations, resume development, coaching assistance for their job hunt and help starting a business. Here are six programs designed to help veterans adjust to new roles in the civilian workforce.

1. Veterans Affairs Education and Career Counseling program: This program provides career counseling and support for service members seeking new careers. To qualify, veterans must apply within one year following discharge of active duty and be eligible for any other VA education benefits. The Education and Career Counseling program can help veterans identify their best career options based on their skills and interests and also help maximize their VA benefits and other resources.

2. Veterans Employment Center for Job Seekers: This online resource is a one-stop shop for veterans seeking entry into the civilian workforce. It provides a host of career-development and related tools, including:

  • Military skills translator -- find out the many ways your military skills can be used in the private sector. Enter your branch of service, pay grade and military occupation code and the translator determines which occupations are the best match for your skill set.
  • Profile and resume builder -- Create a public profile and resume so that private employers who actively recruit veteran employees can easily find you.
  • Training and educational resources -- Need help determining your best educational and career options? Tap into these resources to begin the journey to your new career. Here you can find help on how to use your GI Bill benefits to pay for college, as well as resources to help you succeed once you are enrolled.

3. Veterans Educational Assistance Program: VEAP is for older veterans who paid into the program from their military paychecks. VEAP provides benefits for veterans seeking college degrees or vocational certificate programs, flight training, apprenticeships, entrepreneurship training and similar avenues of education. Service members must have entered service between 1977 and the end of June 1985.

4. Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bills: These bills help veterans further their college education or pay for enrollment in vocational and technical programs. Eligibility requirements apply. Benefits can be used for college, vocational and flight training and similar avenues of career development.

5. Joining Forces: This national initiative set for by the Obama administration provides expanded employment opportunities to veterans and military spouses. Veterans can find job training opportunities outside of those offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as a lengthy list of private-sector firms that actively seek veteran employees.

Well-known companies that participate in Joining Forces and have well-established military recruitment plans in place include SAIC, SAP, Cisco Systems, Citi, Comcast, Deloitte, DuPont, General Electric, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Xerox and many others. Together these companies employ thousands of veterans and seek to hire more.

The various educational programs from the Department of Veterans Affairs can help veterans who qualify get their feet established on a new career path and hone their job-seeking and interviewing skills -- it's important to check with the office of Veterans Affairs about the strict eligibility requirements for these various education and vocational programs.

Sources:

Education and Career Counseling, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Accessed November 5, 2014, http://www.benefits.va.gov/VOCREHAB/edu_voc_counseling.asp

Job Seekers, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, eBenefits, Accessed November 5, 2014, https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/jobs

Joining Forces, The White House, accessed November 5, 2014, http://www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces

The Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, September 14, 2012, http://www.benefits.va.gov/VOW/docs/VOW_Factsheet.pdf

"Veterans' Employment Challenges," Prudential, 2012, http://www.prudential.com/documents/public/VeteransEmploymentChallenges.pdf

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