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New Survey: Veterans cite finding a job greatest challenge when returning to civilian life

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New Survey: Veterans cite finding a job greatest challenge when returning to civilian life

NEW YORK – With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, new research shows more than two thirds (69%) of Veterans reported “finding a job” as the greatest challenge in transitioning to civilian life.  TheVeterans’ Employment Challenges study of 1,845 Post-9/11 and Gulf War-era II Veterans also showed that 64 percent of Veterans experienced a difficult transition to civilian life.  Conducted by Prudential Financial, Inc. [NYSE:PRU], with the support of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the survey highlights the unique challenges Veterans are facing when transitioning to civilian life and the greatest challenge for many, finding a job.

“With tens of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans returning from service, the good news is that the nation is more focused than ever on helping Veterans transition back into civilian careers,” said Raymond Weeks, vice president, Veterans Initiatives at Prudential Financial.  “But with employment among Veterans significantly higher than the population overall, particularly those under 30, the need to help get Veterans on career paths has never been greater.”

The survey revealed close to half of Veterans did not feel ready to transition largely due to employment and health challenges, but also the need to take time to decompress after service and “figure out what’s next.”  Along with the difficulty of finding a job in the current economy, 60 percent of Veterans reported that their most significant challenge is explaining how their military experience translates to skills of interest to a civilian employer.  Veterans also pointed to the challenge of competing with candidates who have been in the workforce longer (46%) as well as a lack of education for specific roles (43%).

“Veterans are loyal, disciplined and resilient leaders given the challenges they’ve faced at war and now at home,” said Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA Founder and Executive Director. “These qualities uniquely define the New Greatest Generation—and they are values that any employer would want in a new employee. As thousands transition home, what these men and women need most are opportunities to deploy their proven skills and leadership in the civilian workforce on the home front.”

While the readiness to transition to civilian life increases with age and education, Veterans facing physical or mental health challenges are twice as likely to say they were not ready to transition (53% vs. 28% respectively).  Recognizing the need and value of education, close to half who said they didn’t feel ready to transition believe they need more education or technical training.

Despite the difficulty they report in their transition into civilian roles, 90 percent of Veterans looking for a job believe they have the skills needed to land their ideal job.  They point to problem solving, leadership, ethics and time management and, although less frequently, specific skills such as information technology or health care that can be applied to civilian roles.  Although the majority (71%) feel their military service is respected by employers, fewer believe their skills and training are appreciated (56%). Moreover, three in five are concerned about translating their skills to a business environment (58%) and one in two worry that non-Veteran managers do not understand military culture (48%).

“Among the challenges this research confirms for employers and Veterans is the need to bridge the perception gap between the skills Veterans offer and what employers are looking for,” added Weeks.  “Veterans are looking for support in the form of educational and training programs that help them transition into civilian careers above and beyond what they currently receive.  Companies that invest in these programs and that provide other support services that meet Veterans’ needs are most likely to attract and benefit from the skills, experience, values and leadership Veterans offer.”

The survey polled 2,453 Veterans and separating service members in an online survey from December 12, 2011 to January 23, 2012.  Click here to download the survey or IAVA’s recommendations based on the survey.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is the nation’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving the lives of our newest veterans and their families. Through providing innovative health, education, employment and community programs, IAVA strives to build an empowered generation of veterans who provide sustainable leadership for our country and their local communities. Learn more, get involved and join IAVA’s over 200,000 Member Veterans and Civilian Supporters at

As part of Prudential’s longstanding commitment to U.S. Veterans, active-duty service members and veterans already in our employ, Prudential’s Veterans Initiative team coordinates companywide efforts to create sustainable programs for transitioning veterans, and collaborates with corporate peers to support similar programs with an emphasis on providing veterans access to quality education, job training, and employment opportunities. These efforts include Prudential’s sponsorship of VETalent, an innovative training and hiring program run by Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS), a nonprofit 501©(3) organization with a proven track record. For more information,

Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudential’s diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., Prudential’s iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century.  For more information, please visit

If you are a member of the media who wishes to arrange an interview with IAVA Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff, Chief Policy Officer Tom Tarantino or an IAVA Member about the survey, please contact Michelle McCarthy at (212) 982-9699 or

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the country’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 200,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Its mission is to improve the lives of this country’s newest generation of veterans and their families.


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