- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
There are some advantages veterans have when looking for a job in St. Mary’s County.
“If we had a choice between two people, and the only difference was prior military service, we’re going to pick the veteran 100 percent of the time,” the lead recruiter for Smartronix said recently. Executives at many of the more than 200 technology companies with offices in St. Mary’s County whose work is associated wirth Patuxent River Naval Air Station would probably say the same thing.
This leg up, combined with an unemployment rate that is below the national average, may make it easier for veterans to find work in St. Mary’s here than in other parts of the country. All things being equal, a veteran has a good chance to land a job.
But all things are not always equal. Particularly during the last decade, when the nation has been at war, those who volunteer to join the military have sacrificed the safety, security and stability that civilians can take advantage of when building a career.
Now, American involvement in those wars is winding down, and more than 250,000 servicemen and women are leaving the military each year. Finding a job in nation still struggling to recover from a crippling recession is no piece of cake for anyone.
Nationwide, the jobless rate for veterans who have served since the Sept. 11 attacks topped 12.1 percent in May, when the national unemployment rate was 8.3 percent. The jobless rate may be lower in St. Mary’s than in most places, but it was still 5.8 percent that month.
What veterans bring to the table, employers here say, is discipline, attention to detail and the ability to work hard. These values make hiring veterans not just a patriotic duty but a smart business move.
The trouble is, when a particular job is to be done, employers are looking for someone with that particular skill set. This is why, employers and employment specialists emphasized in an article about hiring veterans published in this newspaper last week, resume writing is an important skill. Veterans are advised to include not just their military specialty but collateral duties as well; anything that might strike a chord with an employer.
After the Aug. 10 article was published, John Loftus wrote to point out that “the dilemma faced by many young vets is that they don’t have the technical skills required to get a job and they can’t get a job to learn the skills.”
He noted that the company he works for, Technology Security Associates Inc., has a veterans apprenticeship program to give people those skills. The basic requirements to be hired for TSA’s program are a good track record in the military and the potential to succeed, Loftus said. TSA provides a full-time job and the training the vets need to enter the workforce.
Apprenticeship programs like TSA’s can offer a hand up to young veterans to gain the skills to compete for jobs on a level playing field. It is a break they have earned.