Between 2007 and 2011, there were 770,388 veterans in Illinois with 22,215,303 in the nation, according to the United States Census Bureau. The statistics in Chicago state that there were 100,219 veterans in the same time frame. The 2011 Survey on Hunger & Homelessness by the Conference of Mayors states that 10 percent of the homeless in Chicago were veterans. However, the interesting thing is that although there is a high number of homeless veterans in Chicago, there is also a high rate of employers actively hiring or looking to hire veterans.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the statistics of employment and unemployment numbers for veterans in the U.S with the percent of the population employed at 47.3 percent and unemployed at only 7.6 percent. Regardless of the age or sex of the veteran, it seems that there are far more employed than unemployed in terms of percentage and overall numbers.

Veterans can be attractive potential employees for many companies because of the different features that come along with being in the military. Military personnel have access to TRICARE, a health benefit program. Military personnel also have a wide array of benefit services for continued education, including Military Tuition Assistance, military scholarships and grants and even reimbursement for GRE and GMAT. With companies looking to cut costs in terms of benefits offered and previously paid training for continued education, hiring a veteran that already has benefits and tuition reimbursement can be a huge advantage over other applicants.

With the emergence of accredited universities that offer online and independent studies, employers benefit from hiring veterans that can further their education while still being able to work a full-time job. Also, since there are so many tuition assistance programs, reimbursements and even discounted federal loans for veterans; the chances that hiring a veteran will be worth it in the long run are high.

Besides the emphasis on education for a potential employee, many employers put more stock in work experience. The problem many newly graduated students are having in this volatile job market is the fact that so many of them lack work experience. While there are some universities that provide job placement or internships prior to graduation, many companies are seeking at least two years experience in a real life work environment. This can be a huge benefit for veterans because so many of them have been able to utilize much sought-after skill sets while in the military.

Leadership, being able to work as a team, keeping your calm under pressure, following direction and maintaining a professional work ethic–these are all skills that many employers are looking for in potential employees. However, those with a military background aren’t always in a general niche when it comes to how they have served. Military positions include everything from engineers and mechanics to those in the medical field. For employers looking for potential workers with real world experience and strong sought-after skill sets, many veterans can start a step above the rest when it comes to competing with other unemployed workers looking for open positions.

Sara Lugardo is a Korean American who thrives in writing about Asian community news in Chicago. She has a Bachelor’s in Communication and is currently working on her Master’s. Her work can be found on