U.S. veterans face uncertain job future as civilians

A new generation of U.S. veterans is trying to re-enter civilian life, and the civilian workforce, with mixed results.

The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and the pending withdrawal from Afghanistan, combined with a recovering economy and Pentagon budget cutbacks, may soon reduce the size of the U.S. Army alone to pre-World War II levels.

CBS News reports that, while the national unemployment rate is currently 6.7 percent, the jobless rate for men and women who served in the military since the Sept. 11 terror attacks stood at 9 percent last year. And over the next four years, more than 1 million servicemen and women are expected to be leaving the military and look for work.

There are efforts underway to help vets find jobs. The The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's "Hiring Our Heroes" program, meant to help transitioning service members and their spouses with employment, has been existence since 2011. It's held close to 700 job fairs all across the U.S, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and has reportedly helped nearly 22,000 vets find employment in over 1,500 businesses.

Last week, "Hiring Our Heroes" announced it was partnering with the National Association of State Workforce Agencies and DirectEmployers Association to assist vets in looking for jobs online using a customized web tool.

Eric Eversole, the program's executive director and vice president at the U.S. Chamber, says the partnership will help guide military men and women to more than a million available jobs in the National Labor Exchange.

"This is public and private sector collaboration at its best," he said in a statement," and will help veterans and service members make more informed decisions about career opportunities, and to do so earlier in the transition process."

At a recent Hiring Our Heroes job fair in New York, 29-year-old Albert Chow joined hundreds of others veterans looking for work. Chow, who spent eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps, says his dream job would be working as an investigator for an intelligence service, or perhaps as a federal air marshal.

Meanwhile, Verne Vetrulli with Qualtek USA says her telecommunications company is looking to hire 1,000 vets. Vetrulli says military veterans have the qualities her firm needs.

"The biggest one is the discipline, and determination and drive," she said. "They're dedicated. They're going to show up to work every day."

  • Bruce Kennedy

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