New efforts to serve those who served

The Department of Labor reports US veteran unemployment is 5.2 percent, down from 6.8 percent in September and better than the national non-veteran unemployment rate of 6.2 percent. Prior to the pandemic, veteran unemployment was 3.1 percent for the 2019 calendar year — the lowest it had been since 2000. This is not by accident, as the federal government has been increasing focus and funding on these transition programs for over a decade.

One program committed to advancing the economic future of vets is The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University in New York. The program was founded in 2007 to advance the lives of those who served in America’s armed forces and their families. Through career, vocational, and entrepreneurship education and training — as well as research, policy analysis, and program evaluation — IVMF has built a sophisticated network for the sustainable success of veteran and their families.

IVMF programs marry the valuable skills of veterans with the dynamic demands of today’s workforce. V-WISE IGNITE, launched in 2016, provides entrepreneurship training for women veterans as well as active-duty military spouses and partners looking to start small businesses when they exit the military. To date, there have been 3,000 graduates and $78 million in annual revenue generated by these new businesses. Of the businesses started under V-WISE, 93 percent are still in operation today. Another innovative IVMF program is its AmericaServe First Network which provides veterans, transitioning service members, and their families access to a simple and effective way to access and navigate a range of supportive services — including housing, childcare, and transportation — in their communities.

For many military families, we’ll never be able to repay the sacrifices made to serve and protect the nation. Through efforts like IVMF, however, we are expressing gratitude and improving the systems and programs designed to ease the return of veterans to civilian life. This is an important initiative to help them leverage their aspirations, knowledge, and skills to build a more promising future for them and their families.