Salute Post-9/11 Veterans for Military, Education and Work Achievements

Each year about 200,000 men and women transition out of the military where they lived and served in a disciplined demanding environment. Today’s veterans also learned skills and developed abilities that are highly valuable in civilian life. Post-9/11 Veterans are a valuable resource for the U.S.

Veterans who served in the military since September 11, 2001 have characteristics that differentiate them as a group from previous veterans. The US Department of Veteran Affairs reports that “More than 4.4 million individuals have served in the military since September 11, 2001 — the Post-9/11 cohort of Veterans. They are younger, more racially diverse, and include more women than any other period of military service in history.”  Approximately 75 percent of today’s veterans are under age 45, and 40.6 percent of them are age 25-34. The majority of Post-9/11 Veterans are prime working age and can make valuable contributions to the US workforce.

Veterans are incredible assets to any line of work, says Lieutenant General Michael Ferriter, president and CEO of the National Veterans Memorial and museum. “These men and women are natural leaders, creative problem solvers and diverse and enriched thinkers who have had the world as their classroom.” As part of the military, soldiers work as part of a team, have a goal to accomplish, and work to find solutions to problems. These skills make today’s Post 9/11-Veterans valuable members of the workforce.

The majority of Post-9/11 Veterans recognize the value of their military service as preparation for part of the civilian workforce.

  • In the ability to get their first job after leaving the military:
    • 61 percent say it helped
    • 35 percent say it helped a lot.
  • Military service was very or fairly useful in giving veterans skills they need for civilian jobs for:
    • 78 percent of commissioned officers
    • 59 percent of noncommissioned officers and
    • 54 percent of enlisted personnel .

Just as today’s veterans have skills that make them valuable employees, they also have skills and abilities that make them successful postsecondary students. Their persistence in completing military objectives and their discipline in accepting responsibility carry over into their pursuit of education and life-long learning. Retired Army Colonel and combat veteran Martin Dinan is the director of veteran recruitment and enrollment at the College of Saint Rose in New York. He says, “Student veterans, for the most part, bring a strong work ethic and maturity to the classroom. Additionally, they are committed to the goals they have set for themselves. Thanks to their military experiences they are committed to mission success, and they view earning their degrees as a mission.”

This mindset and commitment shows in the education pursuits of today’s veterans.  In the first six years since the Post 9/11 GI Bill became effective in 2009, veterans earned almost 450,000 post-secondary degrees or certificates. At the current funding levels it will fund about 100,000 each year.

Today’s Post-9/11 Veterans share many characteristics with other nontraditional learners. Most of them are older than traditional students, many of them have families and work responsibilities. Some of them have challenges related to service injuries. Sixty-two percent are first-generation students. Overcoming challenges and persistence are skills they learned and practiced in military service. Most of them put these skills to use in their education pursuits: 71.6 percent of student veterans who have used the Post-9/11 GI Bill have either earned a postsecondary degree or continue to work towards completion.

Younger veterans who served in the military before pursuing higher education won’t have completed college at the same rate as civilians of the same age. However, veterans use their persistence to continue higher education throughout their life.  By ages 35 to 44 36 percent of veterans have attained a bachelor’s degree compared to 34 percent of civilians.  The National Veteran Education Tracker (INVEST) Project shows that student veterans are 1.4 time more likely than adults overall to earn a certificate or degree. Veterans also are high achievers earning an average of 3.34 compared to traditional student GPA of 2.94.

Benefits provided under the Post 9/11 GI Bill will help veterans achieve personal goals and continue to serve their country as valuable member of the workforce. Employers can help today’s Post-9/11 Veterans achieve career and education goals with education benefits that help veterans overcome obstacles to their goals. Men and women from diverse demographic groups that comprise the United States make the US military strong. They also are a vital part of the US civilian society, possessing valuable skills and pursuing postsecondary education.