terry_moakleyBeing a public transportation geek for the last 45 years or so, back around Veterans Day 2012, I read that the American Public Transportation Association surveyed their members and learned that 68% of them provided transit services directly to VA Medical Centers. I was pleased to learn also that the public transportation industry throughout our country is actively seeking to hire veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The same APTA survey indicated that 57% of its membership have targeted veteran recruitment programs in place, or regularly attend job hiring fairs for veterans and military spouses, or assign the recruitment of potential veteran and military spouse employees to an outside entity. In a different public transportation entity’s publication, I learned that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, among the 21 million veterans in our country, 26% have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

So along with typically higher levels of education than vets of previous wars, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are well-disciplined, understand logistics, are driven to succeed, and many will have Commercial Driver’s License expertise. These veterans seem like young men and women who would fit right into a public transit agency’s staff.

As a veteran seeking employment, you might find your local transit agency represented at one of the ongoing U.S. Chamber of Commerce job fairs for veterans and military spouses. In cities and some smaller communities across the land, there are 18 of these events still to come in January, another 18 in February, 21 in March and an incredible 39 in the month of April.

Or check out a similar project called Recruit Military. Currently on their website, this
veteran-owned group lists dates throughout the year of 67 job fairs for veterans and spouses. For instance, in my hometown, New York City, they will have an 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM Job Fair at The New Yorker Hotel, and on the same date, a Washington, DC Job Fair is scheduled at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

The Sierra Group, with offices in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, is a foundation with a direct mission, “to drive up employment for people with disabilities, including Veterans.” Their focus is threefold: diverse hiring, workplace accommodations and retention. In business since 1991, The Sierra Group is a working partner of Recruit Military.

I’m not suggesting that all recent veterans and military spouses should try to find a job at a public transit agency. While clearly this industry is being quite proactive to hire vets, there are countless other industries where vets might find work. What is extremely encouraging is that the unemployment rate for veterans went down considerably in 2012.

What is extremely discouraging is that it is difficult to find an accurate percentage of unemployed, significantly disabled Iraq and Afghanistan vets. The only two numbers I found were 25% and 29%. If either one of these numbers is accurate, we still have a long way to go to get significantly disabled veterans back to work.

VetsFirst is doing its part to help disabled vets of all ages who are considering employment or education through the release of its Knowledge Book, “Disabled Veterans Employment and Education: Gearing up for Your Future.” Find information on creating a path to employment; choosing a school; understanding and defining disability; and self-advocacy. If you have already read through the Knowledge Book or are on your own path to employment, VetsFirst wants to hear from you. Is the information helpful? Do you have successes or challenges you’d like to share with fellow vets? If so, please let us know.

Terry Moakley
Chair of the VetsFirst Committee