The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

NEWS – Post-9/11 veterans face employment obstacles at home

Young veterans are finding their military experiences doesn’t translate easily to employable, civilian work skills.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate hovers around 7.6 percent but the rate for post-9/11 veterans, ages 18 to 24, is 20.4 percent.

Overall, veteran unemployment, at 7.1 percent, is lower than national unemployment but the biggest disparity is seen in the post-9/11 young veterans.

Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News wrote about these veterans facing poor integration back into civilian life and non-military work, and the stigma of mental illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder that can accompany military service.

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The disconnect between civilians and the military makes it difficult for veterans to smoothly transition, Emmons wrote.

Ruben Valles, a 29-year-old journalism major at De Anza College, served as a Marine for four years.

Valles said he took three years to reintegrate into civilian life because of the effects of PTSD which he said wasn’t an easy process.

“Society and the work force need to be a lot more understanding of veterans and what they need from their peers and from their professional counterparts,” Valles said.

“I think it boils down to what your job was in the military,” Valles said. The younger soldiers that joined the infantry with a desire for combat came out with fewer applicable job skills. In contrast to someone with linguistic skills or even computer skills, infantry veterans can often only become cops or security guards, he said.

Valles said he learned “really good ethics, strong values, good morals, tact, team work and confidence” in the military — skills that aren’t easy to come by and are valuable in civilian life.

After President Barack Obama established the Veterans Employment Initiative in 2009, several programs were created to encourage the hiring of veterans, including Hiring Our Heroes, part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Organizations like Hire Veterans are part of the push to help veterans create resumes, to learn how to present themselves at job interviews and to successfully reintegrate into civilian life.

“The first and most important point is to stay confident and move at your own pace,” Valles said, advising new veterans. “Harness what you’ve learned in life and the military and utilize that in civilian life.”

“If I could do it all over again, I would do everything the same.”

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