Nearly half of America’s veterans are facing “joblessness”

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Reason for unemployment is not what you think. VSOs offer help.

By Sean Claiborne

Last April, the nation’s unemployment rate dipped to 3.6 percent, the lowest it has been since 1969. And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), military veterans are actually doing better than their non-veteran counterparts when it comes to holding a job.

The veteran unemployment rate was 2.3 percent, the lowest that it’s been since the BLS began studying this type of data in 2000.

The jobless number, or those that are considered not in the labor force, held steady for the last quarter at around 96 million people. This number includes the disabled, homemakers, or those who have completely stopped looking for work for any or no particular reason. Retirees are the largest portion, making up almost half of the jobless number.

Today, nearly half of America’s estimated 18 million veterans are retired or are considering retirement, the vast majority of whom are Vietnam Era veterans, about 6.5 million strong, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Therefore, about half of America’s veterans are by definition, “jobless” by way of retirement.

“As our aging veteran population stares down retirement and the eventuality of living on a fixed income becomes reality, finding the right resources to help make the transition is all too important,” says Don Clark, a U.S. Army veteran and a Regional Manager for Wintrust Wealth Management, a Chicago-based asset management firm.

For those already in retirement, the confusion and bureaucracy of the VA system is more than a notion. Veterans trying to find their own benefits through the system may often find their feelings hurt.

Veterans can take advantage of benefits that are available to them through the VA and also through the nation’s network of thousands of veteran service organizations (VSOs). Theses VSOs can save military families thousands of dollars a year because they either provide services directly to the veteran for little or no cost, or they help veterans apply for benefits directly through the VA – typically for free.

These VSO services can go a long way to make retirement more enjoyable for veterans.

Somewhere in America, there is a VSO to assist virtually every need that a veteran may face. VSOs can provide or assist in counseling, small business loans, housing, home health care, among many other services. There are even VSO groups that teach yoga. However, all VSOs are not created equal.

A 2017 AARP survey found that veterans were twice as likely to lose money to scams because phony veteran organizations often exploit the trust that veterans place in fellow veterans.

Executive Producer Glenda Smith of the Americas Heroes Group (AHG), points out “we want to make sure every organization that comes on our show is of par and has integrity, every organization.” AHG’s weekly radio broadcast highlights VSOs and the work that they do in local communities.

Veterans and their families can access a database of reputable Veteran Service Organizations through:

The America’s Heroes Group website: www.americashg.org

The National Resource Directory website: https://nrd.gov/

The Department of Veteran Affairs website: https://benefits.va.gov/vso/index.asp

Sean Claiborne is a frequent panelist and contributor for America’s Heroes Group and is a licensed registered representative for Wintrust Investments, LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC. (sclaiborne@wintrustwealth.com)

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