In the military, focus, discipline and leadership under fire and under pressure are lifesaving currency. But back home, many servicemen and women who want to cash in on that experience and the promise of a brighter future are coming up short-changed.
"They're not getting their equal portion of the American dream," says Dan Caufield, a Gulf War veteran and successful Internet entrepreneur.
So Caulfield invested $500,000 of his own money to start a non-profit organization called Hire A Hero. It's an online network of people that helps service members find quality jobs. More than 600 businesses are plugged in.
"I am extremely passionate about this," he tells CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts. "They're not being invited to the table, for what? Because they did the right thing? Because they've sacrificed their time and years of their life to make sure the rest of us could go to college and do the things we do? Nonsense."
Historically, the unemployment rate among young vets has been consistently higher than non-veterans: In 2005, among veterans ages 20-24 years, that rate was nearly twice as high — 15.6 percent of veterans vs. 8.7 percent of non-veterans.
Despite a drop-off in 2006 — 10.4 percent of veterans vs. 8.1 percent of non-veterans — the unemployment rate among vets was still higher than civilians in the same age group … and much higher than the general population at 4.6 percent.
"They learn unique skills — communications, technology, managerial, logistics. Employers need to understand how to translate those military skills to the civilian sector," says Maj. Gen. William H. Wade II, Adjutant General of the California National Guard.
After 13 years in the Marines Corps and a tour in Iraq, Staff Sgt Michael Teachey was ready to conquer the civilian world.
"I applied for everything," Teachey says of his job search. "After a while, I wasn't even choosy."
He looked for a job for nine months, but after he came across Hire A Hero, he found one in 48 hours as a part-driver, part-salesman for an energy drink company.
"I was like 'where has that Web site been all my life?'" Teachey said.
As for Caulfield, his organization has helped more than 1,000 veterans find jobs since its launch in January. It just partnered with the California National Guard, and now wants corporate America to be all that it can be.
"There is a lot of lip service to hiring military people," he says. "There's just not a lot of action, when it comes down to it."
But for new vets like Teachey, it remains a dream deferred. He'd been unemployed for so long and behind on his bills, he was evicted.
"This notion that you spent the last 13 years of your life defending the American dream?" asks Pitts.
"I can't even live it," Teachey says. "And that's why I'm going home with my mom."
Caulfield calls vets like Teachey casualties of war. He's taking his fight to Washington to get more funding, because in or out of the military, the motto remains the same: Leave no man behind.