(Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2)

In honor of Military Appreciation Month, Call of Duty and its endowment are raising awareness about female veterans’ issues.

The Call of Duty Endowment highlights how women and particularly women of color often have the most difficulty in their transition to civilian life.

The study, seen below, highlights challenges and solutions to the issues that affect women veterans.

Call of Duty Endowment Executive Director Dan Goldenberg commissioned the study.

“So every Military Appreciation Month … we want to have fun in the game, but we want to use it for a real cause,” he said. “We want to attract attention to a real issue and it was pretty shocking to me when we saw the statistic that women veterans are twice as likely to be unemployed.

“By the way, women veterans of color are three times more likely to be unemployed as their male counterparts six months after service. So that really got our attention and we talked about it with our team and we said look, we could do a lot to focus on this.”

He also added, “But also we think when we do this, we need to ground our conversation in data. … And like what's really going on, especially if no one's really done this work, I'll say this study, it vacuumed up a lot of small studies that unfortunately didn't get the attention they should have. So that's another nice thing about us, we have a pretty big megaphone, so we get an opportunity to attract attention to causes in the veteran community.”

Goldenberg also explained another part of his concern with these statistics.

“The other thing is the women veterans are the fastest growing segment of the veteran population. So you just look at the numbers, 10% of all veterans are women, but … roughly 18% of the active duty forces are women and growing so that that veteran population, naturally, is going to grow a lot, right? … It’s important to remind folks of this. …

“The last thing I’ll say about women veterans is, more so than men, they tend to be in a lot of the support functions in the military, which tend to have more direct relevance to civilian jobs than the combat arms there. So you think they’d be doing better, right? You know, they’re more likely to be in the technical jobs, everything from research jobs to engineering jobs to supply jobs, things like that, where there’s real crossover, and yet they’re still having worse outcomes — both in terms of just getting the job but also wages. They’re still not getting 100 cents on the dollar compared to male veterans, which is really discouraging. So the good news is our grantees, especially ones like Hire Heroes USA and Still Serving Veterans, are very, very good at negating that gap. And again … you got to ask for the help, but it’s there and it’s free if they request it.”

Goldenberg also explained that among the biggest difficulties with veteran employment is painting an accurate picture of the crisis. He discussed what research the Call of Duty Endowment had done to understand the issues better.

“So the U.S. unemployment rate … is provided every month from the BLS, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the Department of Labor. They in turn get that number from the census actually, so that we tend to think of the census as providing data every 10 years, but that’s only part of what they do. They do a household survey, they do it every month since 1940. And in that survey, there’s a question. … ‘Last week, were you paid for work?’ If you answered yes to that question, you are considered fully employed.

“[That] might have made a lot of sense in 1940. In a gig economy that we’re in today, it is not a really good measure of economic well-being, right? Because if you worked at Starbucks last week for 10 hours, if you mowed your neighbor’s lawn for 25 bucks, if you drilled as a Guardsman last weekend, but don’t have a civilian job — in all those scenarios, you’re counted as fully employed by the veteran unemployment rate.”

Goldenberg also expands on the issue with the veteran unemployment rate by identifying the complexity of asking, “Are you a veteran?”

“The problem with that question is a lot of people who served don’t think they are veterans. My dad was one of them. He was in the Army Airborne. He thought he wasn’t a veteran ’til his dying day. In his mind, you weren’t a veteran if you hadn’t been in combat. Combat status has no bearing on veteran status. None, zero. There are people who think they’re not veterans, even though they are. And there are also people, especially women, who are reluctant to self-identify as veterans. So, what you get is a really crappy measure that isn’t reflective of the reality.

“The reason we dug into this years ago was when the veteran unemployment rate — supposedly it was going down, down, down, lower than the U.S. unemployment rate - our grantees were seeing unprecedented levels of requests for help from veterans. Why, if the unemployment rates are low, why are the needs for employment help growing? And the reason is real. It’s veterans saying, ‘I got a job. I’ve got two, I’ve got three, but I still can’t pay the bills. I can’t get enough hours.’ Or it just doesn’t pay enough … to keep up with inflation. So it’s not just about a job, It’s about a quality job. And so, that’s what we’re really focused on.”

When asked about why he feels that the endowment has succeeded where the government has not in terms of unemployment issues, Goldenberg had this to say:

“Two big things. The first is TAP — the Transition Assistance Program does a lousy job of preparing veterans for the job market. It gives them sort of a 101 level understanding of what's out there. But the employment component of TAP, first of all, isn't mandatory, so not everyone goes through it. Second of all, it's a hundred soldiers in the classroom with death by PowerPoint for a couple of days. It's not customized, it's not individualized.

“You could have two people in the same MOS … two E-4s getting out of the Army. They're both infantry. One of them grew up in a middle class household, maybe has junior college or even a bachelor's degree under their belt. The other one might be a first-generation American who has a GED and they have, even though they look the same on paper, they have vastly different transition needs.

“So the first thing is, TAP just does not do a good job of providing that customized level [of] preparation for the job market. And we know that if veterans get two things, just two things — if they get professional resume preparation help and professional interview practice — they’re two to three times more likely to land a high quality job, and you just can’t get that through TAP. You have to get that through our grantees, and veterans should never, ever, ever pay for those services. Unfortunately, we run [into] a lot who do, even though our grantees provide this all for free. So you know, I think that’s the first thing, is TAP doesn’t prepare them well.

“The second thing is that the Department of Labor’s programs are just not accountable. Accountability is the name of the game. We get reports on a quarterly basis from our grantees. We provide annual grants. We have quarterly accountability to achieving those results. If they’re not achieving those results, we try to understand why. We try to coach them back, to get them back on the path or provide additional resources that they needed or connections or whatever might be needed, but there’s always accountability.”

If one of our grantees does not meet their commitment to veterans after one year, we stop working with that grantee, Goldenberg said.

“Contrast that with the Department of Labor's programs. … What you see is every year, their cost per placement goes up and up and up, and it goes up because they place less vets with the same amount of money. I can't think of too many walks of life where you could be doing 20% worse every single year and not be held accountable for performance, not be held accountable for doing better for our veterans. So at the end of the day, customized services to veterans and accountability to results.”

One of the ways the Department of Defense has worked to create customizable services for veterans transitioning to the civilian work force is with the SkillBridge program, which gives service members the chance to gain “specific industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during the last 180 days of service,” according to the Skillbridge program’s website,

On May 9, COD players around the world reached the endowment’s fundraising goal of $1 million through the in-game Loot For Good challenge.

However, there will be other ways to help out with this cause later this month. Goldenberg hinted in the interview that there will be something coming out mid-May for Call of Duty to bring attention to this issue.

If you are a veteran in need of Call of Duty Endowment’s employment services, click this link:

If you are a veteran or service member in need, feel free to contact me and I’ll try to help: 202-365-7063 and

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