Hey Vets! No one said it would be easy.

(This piece was prompted after reading multiple articles about Veteran “drop-out — Flunk-0ut” rates. 2017. )
Vet Photo

Hey Vets! Listen up! Repeat after me. “I am not special”.  I know you’ve been told how awesome you are. Indeed there is a 24/7 propaganda machine and dozens and dozens of hand-wringing Veteran advocate groups that say you are “special” or even more absurd “You are Heroes!” Get that out of your head! It’s just “noise” and it won’t help you find a career/job. Start by being ready to do whatever it takes to get a position. And go wherever you must. If you live in a rust-belt region—then leave. Location matters! Get out now! Leave Ohio, Indiana, W. Va. Western PA, Western NY etc.Do I really need to explain this?If you insist on staying in these backwater regions then stop reading now. We live in a Globalized Knowledge Worker economy.  USA  manufacturing is down. There are a reported 6 million positions open in the USA for educated highly skilled employees. Is that you?? Decide on the career. Be ready to take a job that you feel overqualified for. If you were an infantry platoon Sgt. then you may need to pull out your Spec. 4 insignia for a time. Tune out the drumbeat of how “amazing” military leaders are. The US military churns out many inspiring “leaders”. For most Vets that is irrelevant. Don’t cling to what you were. It’s about what you want to be that matters. Don’t look back. Your military service is over. Done. Gone. Take from it what you will…but don’t let being a “Veteran” become your identity. Oh, and those of you without college degrees??? You’ve got an even steeper hill to climb. Those who chant “college degrees are a waste of money” are wrong. It’s no secret. Education matters!! No degree? Study after study —- affirm that the college graduate will make hundreds of thousands of dollars in lifetime earnings more than the non-graduate. Oh! And by the way. Guess where the majority of Vets waste their GI Bill education benefits?? #1 is On-line degree mills. The University of Phoenix is a favorite among Veterans to flush their education benefits. The majority of vets don’t complete these programs and they don’t learn much. Then they join class-action suits in an attempt to recover their squandered money. So don’t bother getting involved with online learning until you’ve demonstrated academic achievement in a university or other traditional learning setting. I know it’s a quaint idea. Actually going to class, taking notes, going to the library and you know, studying! It’s so analog! Do it! You have the most generous education benefits ever offered. Use them as if you’re in a desperate firefight and they are your last ammo magazine. Yes, you need LinkedIn and it’s enormous reach. And other social media tools as well. But I’d tune out most of the “We’re here to help” Veteran groups. Most Americans know little of the military yet they are eager to “Thank You for your service”. But you are moving on from that life……..aren’t you??? Oh, and after you’ve found that new career??…get ready to go through the process again and again. Welcome to the ranks of the “Lifelong learner” If you don’t embrace lifelong education, your chance of success diminishes. Go forth!

Mike Whatley Charlottesville, Va.

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