As two wars draw to a close, the roughly 1.6 million veterans who have fought for America and survived will soon find themselves in the most civilian of activities -- looking for a job. For those who have already come home from the two wars, their search comes in a terrible economy. Although their unemployment rate has fallen from more than 15 percent three years ago, it still has remained uncomfortably high at 8.9 percent this summer (near the overall unemployment rate of 7.8 percent).
But the widely discussed issue of veteran unemployment often fails to acknowledge the plight of disabled veterans. Because of better medical care, more post 9/11 veterans are returning to the U.S. with service-connected disabilities. About 45 percent of the post-9/11 veterans have applied for disability benefits through the Veterans Administration, compared to just 20 percent of veterans from the first Gulf War. What are their job prospects? Paul Heaton is director of the RAND Institute for Civil Justice and an expert in studying disabled veterans.In an interview, Paul Heaton, the co-author of the June RAND report, "Compensating Wounded Warriors," discussed the challenges facing disabled veterans.