New Respect for Women Vets

Tammy Duckworth

Photo Credit: Harry E. Walker/MCT

Veteran’s Day was yesterday—with the federal holiday today—and in case you still think of it as an occasion oriented toward men, think again.


With the election of Tammy Duckworth(D-Ill.) to the House last week, a double-amputee Iraq War veteran, female vets are gaining new prominence. And they should be.


There are some 1.8 million female veterans in the U.S. right now. And though many struggle with issues common with all vets (post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, joblessness), women can’t be lumped in with their male comrades. 


Take jobs alone: new data show that the unemployment rate among female vets has soared in the past year to 15.5% from 10.9%, even as it dropped for men to 9.2% from 12.3%.


Again, women face many of the same hurdles that men do in re-entering the job market: a lack of skills that fit with current corporate needs, or the negative perception of ex-military.


But female vets also battle specific challenges: many are single moms, and may require flexible schedules; and they are more likely to have service-related health problems.


And it pays for employers to understand and respect those needs. As Margaret Harrell and Nancy Berglass note in their June 2012 report “Employing America’s Veterans,” “Hiring veterans is good business.”


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