Unemployed Veterans seeking work

By Philippe Djegal - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Nearly two million veterans have served in the U.S. Armed Forces since September 11, 2001 and yet, Tuesday, the government estimates that more than 11% of those vets are unemployed. The East Texas Workforce Solutions Center in Tyler held a job fair focused on helping jobless vets get back on their feet.

25% of all homeless in America are veterans. That's according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It's estimated that 80% of those homeless served in the Vietnam War.

"When they come back from overseas, 90% of them have no real experience other than being a soldier," said Ray Rash, of Disabled Veterans of America.

"So, what happens is they go to other means such as alcohol and or drugs to cope with the situation that is internal over a long period of time," said Charles Brown, retired U.S. Air Force.

But, Vietnam-era vets aren't the only one's struggling for jobs. According to the non-profit, Veterans of Foreign Wars, about 185,000 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans are out of work. Overall, more than 3.5 million jobs have been lost in 2009. But, Area Director of the East Texas Workforce Solutions Center, Stephen Lynch says all is not lost for our country's vets.

"A lot of employers are here looking for veterans," said Lynch. "They have the basic skills and the transferable skills that they need on these jobs."

"It was pretty hard for me, because my mentality was that I was expecting to get a job when I got out," said Alan Lott.

Lott served in the infantry division of the U.S. Army, fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently, Lott is pursuing a masters degree in social work, taking advantage of a work study program paid for by the Veterans Administration.

"I'm guaranteed to get a job while I'm going to school," said Lott. "I do like 25 hours per week and I work at any organization that deals with veterans."

"We're here to help them; to show them that we really care and we want to try to get them re-engaged back into the community and employed," said Lynch.

President Obama signed an executive order Monday, encouraging more veterans to work for the government. Also, job experts say veterans should take advantage of the new G.I. bill which provides financial assistance to veterans returning from service and looking to start a new career.

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