Veterans Affairs: How LinkedIn Does it Better

by Katrina Jorgensen

TCS News Contributor

This private solution to a veterans affairs issue is a timely contrast to the current scandal in the VA medical system; the prized example of a government program. LinkedIn now offers a new service for veterans to help them find employment. The program has only just started its initial pilot, but it could end up as an incredible asset to former military job-seekers.

The new LinkedIn solution pairs current members with a successful career history with a job-hunting veteran. The LinkedIn member will mentor a veteran for 15 to 20 minutes, then offer tips and solutions on using LinkedIn to find a good job. The feedback session takes place at a convenient time for both parties that they decide on. LinkedIn even emails participants a walk-through about using their website effectively. They also share ideas on translating military skills into the workplace, and how to describe those skills on a resume. It seems like such a simple program, but could impart enormous benefit to our retired military. (If you are interested in volunteering for the pilot program, you can sign up here.)

Compare this to the VA mismanagement, where veterans who need simple medical procedures or mental health help cannot even a timely appointment. In fact, the government may be turning to private sector solutions. Special funding will go to private practice doctors, so veterans can get immediate care instead of waiting for VA services. To make matters worse, the government increased expenditure on Veteran Affairs the past few years—and still couldn’t meet the needs of our soldiers.

The health of our veterans may seem like a far more complicated issue than job seeking tips, but employment is an important issue that deserves attention. Employment can reduce dependence on government services, give veterans a source of pride and impact the economy at large. From 2006 to 2010, the poverty rate for veterans tripled to 12%. In 2010, over 18% of veterans were unemployed, and that number has only fallen a few percentage points in the last 2 year years. These figures remain highest for those who participated in active duty post 9/11. The private sector is a necessary partner in bringing those numbers down. Even small steps, like LinkedIn’s program for veterans or Monsters partnership with military.com can help.

The private sector also provides opportunities to veterans looking to start their own businesses, and multiplies job opportunities. Retired military are 45% more likely to start their own company than non-military individuals. Techstars, a tech start-up accelerator, offers a workshop just for military called the Patriot Boot Camp. The International Franchise Solution has a program called VetFran to help veterans get involved in owning a franchise. Many programs, like VetNet and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, partner with the government to provide similar services, but place a priority on private sector career options.

The inadequate medical services provided to our veterans only highlights the need for private sector engagement. Fortunately, LinkedIn’s mentorship pilot provides a valuable program the government can’t. It also allows average citizens an opportunity to serve those who serve us every day.

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