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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Difficult Job Search for Combat Vets

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

PTSD seen as factor in hiring decisions

Most New Jerseyans say that military service imparts a variety of marketable skills, but that veterans face a difficult time translating that experience into a job offer.  The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll also finds that many state residents feel that PTSD - post-traumatic stress disorder - plays a role when employers consider whether to hire recent combat veterans.

Fully 8-in-10 (81%) New Jerseyans say that veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have a difficult time landing a job when they return home.  Only 6% believe they have an easy time finding employment.  This comes despite the fact that 73% believe the skills and leadership learned in military service can be applied in a variety of work settings. Only 16% say that those skills apply mostly to military situations.

Only 1-in-3 (33%) Garden State residents believe that private employers are eager to hire veterans from Middle East combat zones.  A plurality of 47% say that employers are generally reluctant to hire these vets.  Another 20% are unsure.  More than 3-in-4 (77%) Garden State residents say that the country is not doing enough to help these recent veterans return to the workforce.

"New Jerseyans see the value in the skills obtained through military service but also say that employers feel this experience comes with other issues that could negatively affect workplace performance," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. 

One of the major issues facing returning vets is PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder.  About 7-in-10 New Jersey residents believe that at least one-quarter of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan probably suffer from PTSD.  This includes 47% of state residents who say at least half of returning vets are affected and 22% who say between a quarter and a half are affected.

Most (58%) New Jerseyans believe that PTSD can be successfully managed, while 30% say it is difficult to treat successfully.  This may factor into employers' thought process.  Just over 4-in-10 (42%) residents believe that concerns about PTSD are a major factor when employers consider whether to hire a recent veteran.  Another 38% say these concerns are a minor factor.  Just 11% say they are not a factor at all.

The survey also found that a bare majority of New Jerseyans say that private employers should be able to factor current manifestations of PTSD into the hiring decision, but should not be able to consider the possibility that a vet could later develop PTSD symptoms.  Specifically, 52% of Garden State residents say that private employers should be able to consider the fact that a returning vet has PTSD when deciding whether to hire him or her.  Another 36% say that employers should not be able to consider this.  On the other hand, 51% of New Jerseyans say that employers should not be able to use the possibility of developing PTSD symptoms down the road when considering whether to employ a recent combat vet.  Another 40% say that private employers should be able to weigh the possibility of a delayed onset of PTSD symptoms before deciding whether to hire a recent vet.

Interestingly, there are no significant differences in any of these survey results based on whether the person has a close friend or family member who served in the military in Iraq or Afghanistan, has an acquaintance who served, or does not know anyone personally who recently served in a combat zone.

The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll  was conducted by telephone with 803 New Jersey adults from February 19 to 23, 2014.  This sample has a margin of error of ±  3.5 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute and originally published by the Asbury Park Press and its sister publications (Courier-Post, Courier News, Daily Journal, Daily Record, and Home News Tribune). 

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

I’d like to ask you a few questions about military veterans.

1.     Do you think the skills and leadership learned by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan apply mostly to military situations or can they be applied in a variety of work settings?

2.     From what you know, are veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan having an easy time or a difficult time getting jobs when they return?

3.     Is the country doing too much, not enough, or the right amount to help Iraq and Afghanistan veterans return to the work force?

4.     Do you think private employers are generally eager or generally reluctant to hire veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan?

5.     There has been a lot of talk about post-traumatic stress disorder or P.T.S.D.   From what you know, about how many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan probably suffer from P.T.S.D. – at least half of them, between a quarter and one half, between 10 % and one quarter, or less than 10%?

6.     Do you believe that P.T.S.D. is something that can successfully be managed with the right treatment or is it something that is very difficult to treat successfully?

7.     How much of a factor do you think concerns about P.T.S.D. are for most employers when considering whether to hire a recent veteran – a major factor, a minor factor, or not a factor?

[QUESTIONS 8 AND 9 WERE ROTATED]

8.     Do you think private employers should or should not be able to consider the fact that a returning veteran has P.T.S.D. when deciding whether to hire him or her?

9.     Do you think private employers should or should not be able to consider the possibility that a returning veteran could later develop symptoms of P.T.S.D. when deciding whether to hire him or her?

10.   Do you know anyone who served in the military in Iraq or Afghanistan?  [If YES:  Is this you, an immediate family member or a very close friend?

 

The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from February 19 to 23, 2014 with a statewide random sample of 803 adult residents, including 603 contacted via live interview on a landline telephone and 200 via live interview on a cell phone.  Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey questionnaire design, data weighting and analysis.  For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.  

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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