Today, the country honors the men and women in the armed forces and the sacrifices they have made for America. But Veterans' Day shouldn't just be a reminder of hardships. It should also be a celebration of their achievements -- and we don't just mean on the battlefield. When it comes to school, work and outlook on life, veterans outperform on many fronts. Here are five of them:
1. They are more likely to have a job.
The unemployment rate for veterans has run consistently below that of civilians, hitting an average of 5.6 percent in October compared to 6.2 percent for nonveterans. Of course, those averages mask significant generational differences. The challenges Iraq war veterans have faced in finding a job amid the Great Recession have been well documented. But even among this group, unemployment has been falling rapidly over the past two years, progress that a report released this week by the Senate Joint Economic Committee attributed to a combination of a stronger economy and focused policy.
2. Gulf War veterans are more likely to have full-time, year-round jobs.
Employment prospects are particularly good for veterans of the Gulf Wars. According to the Census Bureau, they are significantly more likely to hold full-time jobs than civilians -- and many of them are considered the kind of "good jobs" that have been in short supply in this recovery. Managerial positions account for 12 percent of the jobs held by male veterans of the first Gulf War, according to Census, making them the most common occupation. For male Gulf War II vets, the most common job is in protective services. For female veterans of both wars, the bulk of the workforce -- 17 percent -- is in health care and technical services.
3. They are graduating college at a higher rate than other nontraditional students.
The Million Records Project is a new initiative devoted to tracking veterans enrolled in higher education -- an area that the group says has historically been plagued by murky data. The initial findings, released this spring, found that about half of student veterans graduate from college, though it may take them a little longer to do it. About 69 percent of those tracked completed their associate's degree within six years, and 74 percent finished a bachelor's degree within eight years. Though the overall completion rate is below that of your typical college student, the report found it is higher than that of other nontraditional students.
4. They have a higher homeownership rate than civilians.
In a blog post this week, Trulia's Chief Economist Jed Kolko looked for geographic patterns in veterans' residence. Though they tend to be clustered across the country, they are more likely to own their homes than civilians. Here's how Kolko explains it:
Finally, veterans are more likely to be homeowners than other adults. Households headed by veterans have a 79% homeownership rate, significantly higher than the 63% rate for households headed by civilian non-veterans. Age accounts for most of this gap. As we noted, there’s a two-decade age gap between veterans and non-veteran civilians, and, except for the very old, the homeownership rate is higher for older adults. Nevertheless, even adjusting for this age difference, homeownership is still about seven percentage points higher for veterans, thanks in part to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs loan programs (VA loans) and other incentives.
5. They're happier than the rest of us.
Talk about perspective. A Gallup poll in July found that almost a third of civilians reported feeling "daily worry." But members of the military? Not so much. In fact, active-duty service members reported feeling the least worry. Perhaps this is job requirement: Dwelling too long on everything that could go wrong would only lead to paralysis. Retired and discharged veterans also reported significantly less worry than their civilian counterparts.
"What do I have to worry about back in the civilian world? A missed report, a client I failed to sign? The penalties for failure to perform in combat are far more severe," Gallup Senior Consultant David Goldich, a discharged veteran who served two tours in Iraq, said in a statement. "The military experience is defined by resilience. Your fellow troops are counting on you to perform under pressure at all times. Quitting is not an option."