Last year, the unemployment rate of young (18-24) American military veterans was 21.1 percent. The non-veteran population of the same age had a rate of 16.6 percent. A major reason for this higher veteran rate was the difficulty veterans in reserve units have getting new jobs. Many companies do not want to hire reservists, because these men and women are likely to be activated, for up to 18 months at a time, and sent overseas. Another problem is that most of these veterans have no work experience outside the military, having entered the service at 18 and done a four year enlistment.
Overall, the unemployment rate for all veterans is 8.3 percent, versus a general rate of 9.6 percent. More recent (since September 11, 2001) veterans have a rate of 10.6 percent. That is more in line with non-veterans of the same age, but lower. As veterans get older, they tend to have a much lower (20 percent or more lower) unemployment rate than their non-veteran peers. That was the experience with Vietnam veterans. But 25 percent of those vets were draftees, while all the current vets are volunteers. Recruiting standards have been raised since the draft ended in 1973. Today's veterans are physically, mentally and educationally superior to their non-veteran peers. That ultimately results in lower unemployment.