Despite many honors for their service to the country this past week, veterans adjusting to life after discharge still face significant challenges in finding work. It’s about figuring out how to apply the skills you’ve learned in service to your employer’s perception of post-traumatic stress.
Timothy Rockefeller, a veteran services officer with the Connecticut Department of Labor who works as a bridge between employers and veterans, said leaving the military is a whirlwind of days and the support provided in the short term. He said he had a lot of information about the service.
Rockefeller, who was a combat Marine in Afghanistan in 2004, says the transition to civilian life is uncomfortable enough, but figuring out where to go for help to find work is just as difficult. increase.
After trying to navigate the myriad of state and federal programs designed to help veterans find jobs, Rockefeller said, “It can be overwhelming.
According to federal statistics, approximately 200,000 US military personnel transition into civilian life each year. According to a 2019 survey, only one in four of them has a job.
Experts say governments and businesses have made great strides in helping veterans hire, but a 2016 study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that 53% of veterans were four months out of the military. It turns out that I am still unemployed.
The job search for newly minted veterans is often complicated by the abrupt shift from structured, rank-based organizations to less.
In Fairfield, Sean Michael Green, who served in the Marine Corps in the 1991 Gulf War, started JDog Junk Removal & Hauling’s Connecticut franchise with a focus on veteran employment.
“The military gives you a true identity, an identity you literally wear,” said Greene, a lawyer and entrepreneur. “When you walk into a military base and see other people in uniform, you know not only who you are, but who you are in comparison to them.”
“And in the private world, it’s all the same,” Green said. “You don’t know who you have around you or who you are in relation to them. It was confusing for me.
“I had no idea”
Dustin Grady served in the Navy from 2003 to 2007 aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, working with aircraft pilots as a parachute rigger.
When Grady was discharged, he struggled with the transition. He found it not easy to transfer his expertise to civilian employment. Grady said he was lucky that his family supported him and helped him find a job.
Grady said he got into college thanks to the GI Bill but didn’t get a degree.
“It was difficult,” said Grady. I waited for my table. I was a bartender for many years because I never had a career out of the Navy. I have done all the odd jobs known to man. constructed. made concrete. I did the roofing. I’m good with my hands, so I was jumping from job to job to find what I wanted to do. ”
Grady, now 38, said he’s still trying to find his niche.
“I still don’t get it,” said Grady.
Grady says he has no regrets about joining the military, and in fact encourages people he meets to do the same. But in retrospect, he would have chosen a military career, perhaps his IT.
Alongside job hunting, Grady said he has battled addiction since being discharged from the military. But Grady said he’s been sober for the past two years.
According to Pew, a research think tank, one in five veterans say they struggled with alcohol or drug abuse in the first few years after being discharged.
Three months ago, Grady was hired by JDog. He said a veteran workforce or veteran family members are comfortable because they share their experiences in the military.
“There are a lot of veterans who need jobs, but they don’t just need to work, they’re coping well with camaraderie,” JDog’s Green said. “Part of the problem is finding a sense of community, and bringing together veterans can recreate that to some degree.”
Post-traumatic stress issues
Commissioner Thomas J. Sardie, a veteran and Army reservist with the State Department of Veterans Affairs, said Connecticut has made great strides over the past decade in helping veterans transition smoothly into civilian employment. I was.
Connecticut recognizes skills achieved in the military, and both the state’s Department of Labor and Consumer Protection have divisions to assess experience. Occupations such as plumbing, truck driving, electrical service, and military experience can shorten qualifications and apprenticeships.
“And sooner or later it will be in the workforce,” Saadi said.
Saadi said the key to job hunting is to write a resume that doesn’t contain military terms that civilian employers don’t understand.
One remaining challenge is awareness of post-traumatic stress.
“I have heard from both guards and reserve personnel that they feel there is discrimination, particularly against potentially injured people suffering from brain-related, TBI, or post-traumatic stress. I have.”
Such injury or condition-based discrimination is prohibited by state and federal law, Saadi said.
“But it’s often very difficult to prove,” Saadi said. “So what we have to do is educate employers to make sure the public knows. If someone has TBI or is suffering from post-traumatic stress, , that doesn’t mean they won’t be good, safe and disciplined employees. They apply themselves and are often good and dedicated employees.”
The Connecticut Department of Labor says it helps hundreds of veterans each year by navigating an array of employment services for veterans. But there are added challenges and urgency in that the returning veteran is much younger than he was before 9/11. This means more universities are getting involved in the transition.
Word of mouth can be a powerful way to learn about services, especially if a veteran can connect with another veteran, the ministry said.
Ron Catania, a Vietnam War veteran and veterans representative for the Labor Department, said one of the biggest hurdles was helping returning veterans figure out what careers they wanted to pursue. He said
“Some of them don’t know what path they want to take and what our obligations are. What we are trying to do is find the right career path when they are in dire straits. to help,’ said Catania.
For more information on the Connecticut Department of Labor Veterans Program, please visit: https://portal.ct.gov/dolui/veterans-services.
Kenneth R. Gosselin can be reached at email@example.com.