Edwin Dixon Epperson III explores the veteran dilemma of unemployment


Rates of veteran unemployment reached their lowest level in over two decades last year.

This year, however, unemployment rates among veterans have again begun to rise. While veteran unemployment rates in the U.S. typically hover around those of non-veterans, and indeed often remain marginally lower overall, unemployment among veterans is a more complicated matter, according to Edwin Dixon Epperson III. Himself a veteran, having served in the U.S. military for over 13 years, Edwin Epperson explains that military occupations and training do not always translate well directly into the civilian workforce.

“The effect of this,” he adds, “is that veterans often find themselves at a disadvantage when looking for gainful employment outside of the military.”

The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, or VETS, suggests that the current veteran unemployment rate in the U.S. stands at 3.8 percent, an increase of 0.1 percent compared to the previous year. During the same period, however, non-veteran unemployment rates mirrored this, also at 3.8 percent, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“An overall rate of 3.8 percent actually represents the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. since April 2000,” Edwin D Epperson reveals. However, unemployment among veterans, he suggests, often has underlying causes and additional effects.

After service, the prospect of reintegrating into society and finding gainful employment is a harrowing prospect for many veterans, says Edwin Epperson.

“Gone is the discipline and camaraderie of military life, and of answering life’s higher calling of servitude,” he adds. Instead, many veterans, suddenly thrust back into a now unfamiliar way of life, struggle immensely to reintegrate. This, says Edwin Epperson, often leads to issues surrounding mental health and well-being, which makes finding work difficult, and which has led to an unfortunate prevalence of substance abuse among veterans.

“Military service can leave lasting mental scars,” explains the fellow veteran, “resulting in a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder. Without effective treatment, the disorder can follow a service member back into civilian life and become an incredible burden.”

With this in mind, Edwin Dixon Epperson III firmly believes that creating valuable, skilled jobs, and thus purpose—and a reliable, healthy source of income—for veterans is one of the most important commitments a society can undertake. “After all,” he says, “the military not only creates jobs, but it keeps its country’s citizens safe, for which we should all be immensely grateful.”

Edwin Epperson goes on to suggest that veteran unemployment is something of a paradox, as serving time in the military requires immense discipline, hard work, and a steely determination. “A life in the military is a life devoted,” he explains, “which is one of the primary reasons why veterans can, and invariably do, make such wonderful employees once they’ve finished serving their country and have been discharged.”

Military-standards of discipline and commitment, suggests Edwin Epperson, as well as a corresponding work ethic, translate exceptionally well into many civilian fields, particularly within the construction and renovation industries.

Unfortunately, however, Edwin Dixon Epperson III believes that many employers fail to tap into this valuable resource, often out of lack of awareness, and that in many instances, veterans are unaware of how valuable their skills could be. “Especially with the difficulties surrounding reintegrating into civilian life, and surrounding mental health, a large number of veterans simply remain unaware of, or unreceptive to, the idea that they are potentially fantastic employees for a number of incredibly valuable industries,” he adds.

Accordingly, Edwin Epperson, through his company Vertical Fund Management, is seeking to facilitate work and drive employment opportunities for veterans through strategic partnerships with other local, veteran-owned businesses and organizations in the Greater Tampa Bay Area. These partnerships will also look to address issues surrounding affordable housing, while simultaneously addressing the tremendous social challenge of taking care of veterans who have sacrificed so much for the U.S. as a nation, he reveals.

“Those who have offered their lives up to protect and serve their country are invaluable, and heroes of the highest order, each of whom is truly deserving of all the help we can provide,” adds Edwin Epperson, wrapping up.

To find out more about how you or your business can get involved with serving and supporting veterans in the Greater Tampa Bay Area, Edwin D. Epperson III can be reached directly via email at info@verticalfundmgmt.com.

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