As a country, we owe a great debt of gratitude to our military for their service and sacrifice. Unfortunately, these heroes, with a wide array of transferable skills, face discrimination and critical barriers that make it difficult for them to find and keep meaningful employment.
Approximately 99,720 veterans reside in Orange County (U.S. Census Bureau 2020). According to a report issued by the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work entitled “The State of the American Veteran: The Orange County Veterans Study,” over 70% of Orange County Veterans do not have a job when they leave the military, only 30% are employed full time, 28% are underemployed, 33% have incomes below U.S. poverty level guidelines, 35% are in need of permanent housing, and 18% are unhoused.
A growing number of Veterans face significant challenges when it comes to affording the high cost of living in Orange County. The cost of living in this area is a staggering 87% higher than the national average. In fact, just to be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment, one would need to earn $36.61 per hour (2022-2023 Orange County Community Indicators Report). Given these circumstances, it is crucial that transitioning active duty, reserve, guard, Veterans, and their families have access to reliable, consistent, and well-paying job opportunities.
They deserve the support and opportunities necessary to thrive in this challenging environment. Yet, many struggle to find work and are underemployed. In low-wage occupations that do not utilize the knowledge or experience gained through their military service, they are not able to adequately provide for themselves and their families.
Family members of servicemen and women face many of the same issues returning to civilian life. The majority have been absent from the workforce for long periods, have difficulty accessing educational opportunities and job skills training, and have gaps in their employment histories due to their partners’ military commitments. They are also in need of assistance to resolve their individual barriers to employment, build their self-confidence, and identify career opportunities that align with their skills and civilian career goals.
How YOU Can Help
Operation Employment starts NOW! Working Wardrobes is hosting a Veterans and Military Day of Giving on May 24th, and we are enlisting YOU to help raise $75,000 for Veterans and Military members facing barriers to gainful employment. With more military bases than any other state and a climate that makes homelessness survivable, California is home to 31% of the country’s unsheltered Veterans. Together, we can help these individuals overcome barriers to gainful employment and financial security.
How Working Wardrobes Helps Veterans and their Families
Working Wardrobes is a nonprofit that aims to help job seekers gain the tools to get back to work. We are intimately aware of the unique issues that our country’s bravest face.
1. Tracking Down Necessary Documents
While there are many services in Orange County designed to assist Veterans, many cannot access those services simply because they do not have the critical documents they need. Our team at Working Wardrobes believes in meeting people where they are, and sometimes that means helping them track down their birth certificate, government-issued identification, or their military service record (DD214).
2. Identifying Transferable Skills During Resume Building and Career Navigation
Veterans and transitioning active-duty service members have ledgers of transferable skills that can be profitable powerhouses to employers. Yet, these individuals who fought for our freedoms face discrimination, often because employers misunderstand the information they are reading on a resume, or they do not understand how these skills transfer to their workforce needs. Veterans may feel discouraged and question their qualifications. At Working Wardrobes, we often find that the first step comes in reassuring Veterans that their experiences are valuable in the civilian workplace. A boost in confidence, accompanied by personalized resume-building assistance and career navigation, makes a world of difference.
3. Professional Wardrobing
Working Wardrobes also provides professional wardrobe services to help Veterans present themselves in the best possible light during job interviews and in the workplace. This includes providing professional attire and image consulting services to help Veterans look and feel their best. By providing these services, Working Wardrobes helps Veterans build their self-confidence and increase their chances of success in the job market.
4. Power UP for Success
Every year, Working Wardrobes hosts Power UP for Success events, in which Volunteers, Community Partners and staff head to a military base to provide a full day of career preparedness services. These services include a Career Fair with national employers, a skill-building workshop, a Career Panel of Veterans who successfully navigated the transition to civilian life/work, and of course, Working Wardrobes signature Wardrobing services – a Success Suit! These events prepare service members to find meaningful, gainful employment upon completion of their service to our great country. To learn more, read our most recent Men’s Power UP for Success event recap.