The job market is tough to navigate, and it’s statistically more difficult for veterans — the national unemployment rate was 7.7 percent this past February, and it was 9.4 percent for service members leaving the military. Despite the numbers, there are programs and resources that veterans have access to which can lead to success stories. USA Today talked with two young veterans who walked a rough road to job security, but eventually found their stride.
Jose G. Chavez, an Iraq veteran who’s been unemployed for months, eventually found his way to the Arizona Coalition for Military Families’ (ACMF) employment program which has led to new opportunities. The coalition networks nonprofit organizations and Arizona Army National Guard resources to help veterans and their families find jobs and other resources. These include counseling, assistance with traumatic brain injuries, job leads, and resume building. The program has helped Chavez land an interview for a security job, and helped him pursue a degree in parks management. “It’s been rough,” he said. “There are thousands of reasons to give up, but I’ve got five good reasons not to. My wife and my babies.”
Sydney Klaman, a 27 year old veteran who served as a technician, has had a difficult time securing a job where he can put his skills to good use. Despite his abilities, Klaman found himself woefully unable to navigate the job market. “I didn’t know what to do,” Klaman said. “I still didn’t even know how to actually write a resume or do the interviews properly. I just looked online. I just tried to do, you know, self-research.” He found the civilian job market to be unstructured and unwelcoming, and after a house fire, he needed to move in with his mother and step-father to keep afloat. After using the resources of the ACMF employment program, Klaman found a job working with electronics, and plans on going to school to pursue a degree in physics.
One aspect of the job search that works against veterans is the stigma surrounding PTSD. Nicola M. Winkel, a program consultant with the Arizona Coalition for Military Families, is noted saying that the stigma is inaccurate. When an employer does hire a veteran who endures PTSD, there are a few easy actions that can be taken to help them situation themselves such as connecting them with other veterans and, as USA Today reports, “rearranging office furniture so veterans face doorways.”