Sobering Job Prospects for National Guard Soldiers


Amidst the Black Friday madness, middle east conflict, Texas traffic pileup, USC vs. Notre Dame and all the other news that went down over Thanksgiving weekend, the Los Angeles Times shed an important spotlight on a sector of the military population hit particularly hard by the job crisis.

That would be soldiers and airmen and women from the National Guard, 20% of whom return home to unemployment. The percentage doubles the 10% unemployment for all veterans who have served since September 2001. Locally, unemployment stands at just under 17% for the California National Guard.

The fact that the nation has tapped National Guard officers and put them on the front lines for the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns means that our Guard and reserve officers have long since shed the “weekend warrior” designation. Guard soldiers and reserve officers can be called upon for peacekeeping duties abroad as well as to fulfill state obligations. And when a person can be summoned for duty at any time, that makes him or her a less valuable commodity in the eyes of potential employers.

There’s no reason for JVSWorks to restate all of Times reporter Alexandra Zavis’s excellent article (although, as always, we encourage you to read it). A shout out, certainly to the work being done by Major Ty Shepard whose state program Work for Warriors is looking to take down unemployment in California. Per Zavis’s article, Work for Warriors has “helped find work for more than 300 of the 1,789 members who have contacted them.”

That may seem like a low percentage and, indeed, nothing about this situation seems even slightly encouraging. The article concludes by referencing Guard members who are using their GI benefits to go to school and hopefully waiting out the recession and improve their employment prospects. They too might find themselves unemployed unless the economy picks up.

Learn more about Work for Warriors. Check out the job board at and learn about JVS’ Veterans First here.