Veteran Employment Challenges

We will eliminate new cases of military veteran unemployment by 2021 using technology, community, and education to provide a coordination and curation service to veterans before they leave the military. Think a digital reverse boot camp. If you’re interested in helping with this national effort, contact me at yulee@veteranlaunch.org.
This may be bold, but there is no magic here. We’re simply helping veterans decide what civilian job they want and helping them become competitive candidates. Properly translate a soldier’s motivation, give her time to become a competitive candidate, and she will get the job done. It really is that simple. It’s what every business school student does to find a post mba job, except that mba students claim to know what they want to do when they apply to business school.
Do-gooders are not allowed to earn money, unless they are …
A significant difference between business school students and transitioning veterans is that it is acceptable to make money helping students find satisfying jobs, but it is not socially acceptable to make money helping veterans find satisfying jobs. Everyone thinks that this should be done for free, especially without explicitly saying it. This is a challenge because we then struggle to articulate a persuasive WIIFM (what’s in it for me). But let’s not forget that it is perfectly acceptable to make money dropping veterans into jobs they don’t like. After all, being miserable and employed is better than being unemployed. There is an abundance of companies offering this service and you can easily recognize them by their complete lack of placement satisfaction or retention statistics. Society is over weighting veteran service provider compensation and under weighting service provider results. Naturally, were all disappointed. I’m glad that there is a large social cost for taking advantage of veterans. All of us sleep well because of the security they provide and we owe them our protection in return. But we have to make sure that we are not doing more harm than good by imposing unreasonable profit restrictions service providers. Happily employed veterans is the preferred outcome for everyone.
We’re from the government and we’re here to help.
You may ask; “What about the government? Shouldn’t the government solve veteran employment challenge?” To which I respond; “bless your heart” in the most Southern way possible. The government transitioning veterans to civilian jobs is the status quo. It’s a transition assistance program; great intentions buried in terrible execution. If you have a civilian job, let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine a program designed by the military (or any other government agency) to help people from another culture successfully interview for your job. You should quickly conclude that this is a recipe for a soup sandwich. At best, the government would be able to come up with a static and necessary, but not sufficient, program. At worst, they would come up with something that leads a veteran in the absolute wrong direction because it is outdated. No, helping veterans decide on a civilian career path and preparing them to be competitive candidates is not a job for Uncle Sam. Supporting and defending the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, is a job for Uncle Sam. The most valuable thing Uncle Sam can do in this case is get out of our way. He knows nothing at all about civilian job search and is in no position to teach anyone about it.

Nonprofits, our crazy is leaking out.
America, let’s stop with these unrealistic expectations on nonprofit financials. Nonprofits, know your role and stay in your lane.
I understand that rational people do not want to throw hard earned money at an organization that claims to help a veterans while its staff signals living in the lap of luxury. But realize that for-profits are the efficiency and effectiveness standard for business operations because they are driven by the requirement to increase shareholder value. They must increase revenue and/or decrease costs. But no for-profit business launches new products and services without waste/mistakes, so why are we expecting nonprofits to hit that mark? Run your own experiment. Contact your favorite for-profit and find out:
1. How many products/services they’ve launched in their history?
2. What were the profit margins the new product/services?
3. What were the margins for the existing products/services?
4. Evaluate your expectations on nonprofit service launches?
The only meaningful difference between nonprofits and for-profits should be what they do with the generated profits.
Did you know that there are 40,000 to 60,000 organizations trying to help veterans? Neither do veterans. Coopetition is defined as collaboration between business competitors in the hope of mutually beneficial results. I am new to the nonprofit world and am astonished at how much organizations would rather do something badly alone over doing the same thing well with someone else that may be considered a competitor. Not only does this hurt the organizations’ brands, but it doesn’t help the cause. Be good at what you’re good at and find others doing the same to address your weaknesses. If someone else is doing what you want to do better than you can, help them. This is a common for-profit strategy.
Veterans remain underserved and these are just a couple of the causes for the abundance of necessary but not sufficient solutions. I work for Veteran Launch and our goal is to make sure no veteran leaves the military without a job offer in hand by 2021. If this goal is something you’d like to support, I invite you to join us.