Women veterans struggling to find work

Being one of the guys has helped women like Army reserve Sgt. Marie Adams gain acceptance on the battlefield. But she has experienced difficulties in finding a job.
CBS News

(CBS News) SAN FRANCISCO - The current job market is proving difficult for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. About 10.2 percent of male vets are listed as unemployed. The number stands at 10.8 per cent for females, well above the national average.

Female veterans say they face particular barriers, as we hear from CBS correspondent John Blackstone

"The bombs were hitting all around our tents," said Sgt. Marie Adams. "They were hitting our trucks, they were hitting our tanks."

Added Sgt. Lindsay Freeland: "We're out there with the men. We're raiding buildings. We're up in the gunner's turret."

"We're so used to being one of the guys over there," said National Guard Sgt. Anna Rutherford.

Being one of the guys has helped women like Army reserve Sgt. Adams gain acceptance on the battlefield.

"But translating that into the civilian world, I feel that it's misunderstood," she said.

She's a photographer, shooting everything from combat to portraits.

"I had the experience," said Adams. "I'd been trained by the government -- boom! -- 'I should be able to get a job, it should be no problem.' But that's not the case."

It was the same with National Guard Sgt. Freeland, a digital designer, who drove trucks through Afghanistan

"Constantly putting in applications or resumes for different and same jobs, and getting constant rejection letters," said Freeland.

Likewise for National Guard Sgt. Rutherford, a communications specialist.

"I would definitely say the employers might be intimidated by a female who's very aggressive, very outgoing, somebody who is a very take-charge type female," said Rutherford.

And when they do go for a job interview...

"The first question they ask me is, 'Oh you've been deployed?' 'Yes.' 'Oh my God, did you kill anybody?'" said Adams.

But praise for their accomplishments overseas often comes with rejection.

"'Thank you for your service and I appreciate you coming in today. I'll be giving you a call Or maynot be giving you a call,'" said Adams.

"Female veterans I think feel like, they've kind of been the forgotten patriots," said Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, who is on the House Veterans Affairs Committee. "I think you're gonna see increasing numbers continue to struggle."

They have achieved equality but don't feel like equals.

"I was on the front lines, I was next to my male counterparts, I did everything that they did," said Rutherford.

"Maybe I can find a summer job, that's about it," said Freeland.

Frustrated and unemployed, they made it home, but worry they're being left behind.

  • John Blackstone
    John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.