- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Thousands of veterans have been searching for jobs. Now, the jobs could be coming to them.
The Hero2Hired Mobile Job Store is scheduled to visit Patuxent River Naval Air Station today, March 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as it makes rounds across the state. The program is free.
The van plans to set up shop in the parking lot just outside the Frank Knox building, accessible from Route 235 and just south of Gate 2 of the Navy base. No Pax River identification card is needed for attendees. The event is open to men and women who have served as reservists or active duty in the Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and the Army and Air National Guards. Their spouses also are welcome.
The program is run by the Department of Defense.
In an uncertain economy and as deployments get shorter, more guardsmen and reservists are looking for work, said Don Bouchard, southern region chair for the Maryland Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. Bouchard is also a retired Navy helicopter pilot now working as a defense contractor in Pax River.
“Finding a job isn’t easy, and military life poses a unique obstacle for our family members, veterans and service members transitioning into the civilian sector,” said Capt. Ted Mills, commanding officer at Pax River.
While some employers see frequent job transfers — often associated with military moves — as a red flag, there are many companies out there who view it as a positive. They see these potential employees, our military family members, not only as having a vast amount of experience from the different positions they’ve held, but as someone who is adaptable, selfless and patient — qualities military families quickly develop, Mills said. As for our veterans and transitioning service members, Mills said, translating skills from “military lingo” to what civilian companies can understand and relate to can be a challenge in itself, and they sometimes wonder what civilian career path is most relatable to their military experience. The H2H program addresses these issues and more by helping translate résumés and by simplifying the job search. It helps connect our family members, veterans and transitioning service members with military-friendly companies,” he said.
For non-veterans last year, the unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans was 11.7 percent in January 2013 — broken down by gender, 10.5 percent for men and 17.1 percent for women.
Those rates remain unacceptably high, according to a report compiled last year by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee Chairman’s Staff. “Although the economy continues to improve, many young veterans will face an uphill battle to find a civilian job,” the report said. Young veterans with short military careers have historically had difficulty finding civilian jobs. They likely have no college education, little work experience and, the report said, some employers might be reluctant to hire members of the National Guard “because those workers may be called up with little notice.”
Still, jobs and resources are available to those veterans, according to Hero2Hired employment transition coordinator Carl Peters, who plans to be at the mobile job store today. There are about 3.6 million jobs in the H2H data base, along with 130,000 job seekers and about 15,000 employers, Peters said.
“Most of our employer partners want to hire veterans because they are vets” themselves, Peters said. “They understand what these young folks have gone through.”
At the H2H event Friday, veterans can get assistance building their resumes, they can search for jobs in the Hero2Hired database, or get assistance translating military terms to everyday language for their resumes.
Aside from visiting the mobile job store, veterans can go to the Hero2Hired website, create profiles, apply for jobs, open videos to practice interviewing skills, learn to negotiate salaries and get contact information for a person whose job is to walk them through the process and connect them with employers.
“I can’t tell you how often my phone rings,” Peters said. And, the Navy veteran, who served as a submariner, said he’s happy to answer. He’s helped veterans, like one whose face was severely damaged by a roadside bomb. That vet’s mom, Peters said, called to say thank you for helping her son on his employment search and getting his life closer to normal.
“The really heartbreaking part of this,” Peters said, “is so many people in this country don’t understand what’s going on.”