As the economy slowly continues to improve, the unemployment rate for the country as a whole is improving with it. Unfortunately for the veterans who have served in the year following the September 11 attacks, this is not the case. In January, the unemployment rate for post-9/11 vets stood at 11.7 percent, a significant increase from the 9.9 percent in December. It's certainly not easy to transition from military to civilian life, and those who have gone through it have one piece of advice – start planning early.

Lay the groundwork early
Soldiers preparing to separate from service may think they shouldn't start their job search in earnest until they leave the Armed Forces. However, former Army medic Dan Huber says nothing could be further from the truth. According to The Associated Press, he has had trouble finding a job since leaving the military, and he says that waiting too long to plan was one of the biggest mistakes he made, something he made sure to share with his fellow servicemembers.

"I've told them: 'Hey, man, you guys have really got to start planning months and months in advance," he told the AP. "It's not just planning for interviews. It's planning to make sure you'll be afloat in this time period, which you don't know how long will take.'"

Problem being addressed 
Despite the high numbers, there has been a considerable amount of work done to help lower the unemployment rate among the country's youngest vets. Along with the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which passed Congress in 2011 and provides training assistance to servicemembers, lawmakers are also working on a new bill in the early days of 2013. According to Military Times, the bill's chief component would be an extension of the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), which provides up to a year's worth of GI Bill benefits to help a soldier learn a new, marketable skill. The proposed bill includes a number of other provisions as well, such as a grant meant to hire veterans as police officers. Government officials also want to craft a single, federal website designed to help veterans find jobs.

Where to look?
One of the biggest challenges facing veterans looking for jobs is that they may not know where the best places are. The AFBA Career Center helps reduce some of those obstacles by connective job seekers with potential employers.