In 2011, the unemployment rate for military veterans discharged between the years 2001 and 2011 stood at 12.1%. The jobless rate for all veterans stood at 8.3%. Meanwhile, the overall unemployment rate hovered at 8.8%. Between the U.S. government’s current budgetary tailspin and the ongoing drawdown with respect to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is inevitable that service members will feel the impact of economic challenges. Nevertheless, this impact becomes even more dramatic when analyzing the Department of Defense’s (DOD) force-shaping measures in 2011 because these force reductions are responsible for discharging tens of thousands of service members.
Such deep military cuts present a unique opportunity to legally dissect the military’s employment culture. Can the military fire service members at-will even when they are on the eve of retirement? Do constitutionally protected property rights attach, and if so, when? Can a legislative remedy protect officers? These are some of the questions this Article addresses. . . .