Veterans battle to find non-military jobs

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - As more veterans come home, in a struggling economy, finding work, even here in East Texas, has become a challenge.

"Even though the option is here, the pay rate is not what its going to be in New Jersey or Minnesota," explained Greg Adams, a Veteran's Representative at Workforce Solutions os East Texas.

A Labor Department report shows over 11% of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are unemployed. We found 23 year army veteran Robert Harris looking for a job at the Workforce Commission in Longview. He has been out less than a year.

"One of the things that the soldier faces is actually having the acquired skills that's needed for the civilian sector," said Harris. "So, they find themselves in the position, per say, of not having the qualifications on paper."

The solution, Workforce Solutions says, is simply "be prepared".

"The successful ones were basically who had planned their retirement or separation where they knew months ahead and they had an idea what they wanted to do, and [the] unsuccessful [are] just the opposite. They knew six months earlier that they were getting out at "x" date there was no clue as to their ambition of course you ask them what they want to do now they can't give you a straight answer," said Adams.

Army numbers show more soldiers are re-enlisting because of the poor job market. Some fields like law enforcement are tailor made for veterans.

"We've had some veterans apply," said Assistant Longview Chief of Police, Don Dingler. "We've hired five or six of them. They've made very good police officers."

Some have the advantage of de-briefing from their branch of service.

"One of the things that helped me a lot was the transition out of the military," said Harris.

And now, with a shrinking job market, veterans need any edge they can get.

Oddly enough, the highest unemployment rate is among the youngest returning veterans; those between the ages of 20 and 24. It is at 15%.