When my father Dan returned from WWII, he and millions of discharged veterans swapped uniforms and combat boots for suits and ties. He successfully transitioned from the military to a civilian career and founded Edelman. Although America’s current post-9/11 generation of veterans have similar opportunities, they face challenges unique to an all-volunteer force who, like my father’s generation, have added millions of citizens to the ranks of veterans.

Edelman continues to honor his legacy of service through our commitment to helping these service members and their spouses successfully transition from military to civilian life, just as he did. Today we are releasing our third annual Veterans Well-Being Survey, a study of more than 4,500 veterans, non-veterans, employers and educators that leverages the research expertise of Edelman Intelligence to help the public and private sectors better understand the current state of veteran employment and well-being.

For the first time this year we analyzed well-being trends and surveyed employers and military spouses about hiring challenges. The good news is that while perceptions of veterans’ well-being remain low, they have improved modestly. However, this year we confirmed ongoing challenges to veteran and spouse employment, and the news is mixed:

  • 49 percent report difficulty finding a job in their desired field after leaving the military. This was particularly true for post-9/11 veterans (51 percent).
  • Despite initial employment struggles, two-thirds of employed veterans (66 percent) say they are currently employed in a desired field.
  • A slight majority (53 percent) of employers believe that, compared to non-veterans, most veterans do not have successful careers after leaving the military.
  • Veterans who have been in their current job for more than two years cite good benefits, a competitive salary and excellent management as their key reasons for staying.
  • Although 64 percent of employers say that hiring military spouses is a priority for their companies, 53 percent admit that their companies do not understand the benefits of hiring military spouses.

Edelman’s commitment to veterans’ well-being also honors my mother Ruth. She had bipolar disorder and actively lobbied Capitol Hill in the 1990s to get funding for mental health research. Our survey continues her work, asking veterans and non-veterans alike about their mental health challenges. We found that half of employers and veterans, and a third of non-veterans, reported experiencing a mental health challenge in the past year. After three years of research, respondents have confirmed that there still is a stigma against getting help — a challenge our survey partners and other healthcare professionals are working diligently to eliminate through data and information-sharing.

It’s my hope our continued effort to research and track the components of veterans’ well-being will help our clients and partner organizations make progress helping America’s newest generation of veterans successfully transition to civilian careers like my father — armed with the same support and resources to continue to serve successfully in their chosen careers.

John Edelman is managing director, Global Engagement and Corporate Responsibility.

Aratrika Rath