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Indiana nonprofit anticipating an impending ‘wave’ of veterans looking for employment

By Justin Hicks, IPB News | Published on in Business, Economy, Military
A National Guard member helps at a drive thru vaccination clinic in South Bend. (Justin Hicks/IPB News)

Indiana nonprofit INVets said, due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, more soldiers stayed in the military than usual last year. But it also anticipates that will change soon, especially as job opportunities seem to be everywhere.

In 2020, the U.S. Army offered soldiers short-term reenlistment options of less than a year. That way, soldiers due for separation wouldn’t be thrust into the civilian workforce when jobs were scarce and the need for service members to fill in gaps for virus response was heightened. At the same time, many career soldiers held off retirement, waiting for a stable job market.

Wes Wood is executive director of INVets, an organization that pairs veterans with Indiana jobs. This year they’ve helped roughly 3,400 veterans so far – a little lower than they expected. But he hopes that will change as those enlistment extensions expire and soldiers feel more comfortable leaving secure jobs.

“We’ve seen a dip in the number of people leaving the military, we’ll see a wave as COVID clears up,” he said. “In the meantime, there’s always people getting out seeking employment.”

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He said one of the perennial challenges to veteran employment lies in translating military skills and valuable experiences to qualities employers are looking for in the civilian workforce.

Wood said Indiana’s favorable tax policies for veterans and college-tuition discounts help in attracting service members to the state.

Contact reporter Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.