The job market is obviously bleak—but it's even worse when it comes to troops returning from war. The Washington Post takes a look at the 2 million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, who spent as much as 10 years, on and off, in desolate war zones, racking up skills that have little value at home. The result, according to federal data, is that they're having an even tougher time finding jobs: Last month, recent veterans had a 10% unemployment rate, compared to 9.1% for non-vets.
And there's been a lack of parity since at least 2005. That's undermining a long-used selling point for enlisting: That soldiers' time in the military will make them more marketable when they're done. Analysts cite a few reasons behind their struggle: Employers don't necessarily place a premium on skills like mission focus and the ability to function under extreme pressure; and more than 20% of vets claim service-related disabilities like PTSD. "A lot of people when they look at Afghanistan and Iraq vets, the first thing they think is post-traumatic stress," says one vet. "Is he normal? Can he sleep at night? Is he reliable? I think that's what employers think."