Military veterans who risked their lives for their country are having an increasingly difficult time finding a job when they return home. Local organizations with help from federal agencies are trying to help unemployed veterans find jobs in western Massachusetts. WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
A Department of Defense sponsored mobile job store is traveling the country to assist veterans looking for work. With the “Hero2Hired” initiative veterans can register in a data base, explore job listings, research career options, training resources, craft a resume and get tips on marketing themselves, according to Army Sergeant Major Wayne Bowser
The “Hero2Hired” mobile unit has been on the road for five months and has signed up 30,000 veterans, and 3000 employers . Tuesday, it was in Chicopee Massachusetts for a job fair for veterans.
There are one million veterans out of work, and that number is expected to grow by tens of thousands this year as the pace of military discharges increase. The unemployment rate for young male veterans is double the rate for non-veterans, according to the US Labor Department.
There are a lot of reasons for the high jobless rates, according to Earl Bonett, Massachusetts Vice Chairman of the organization, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
He says there are also employers who for whatever reason are reluctant to hire veterans.
Darlene Morse of CareerPoint in Holyoke, one of the state’s one-stop career centers, says veterans who are used to military lingo have trouble articulating their skills
Kimberly Babin, the Director of the Department of Veterans’ Services for the city of Chicopee, has launched a project to encourage employers to hire veterans.
Babin invites any employer with a job opening to contact her office and she can make referrals through the other 244 veterans’ service officers in Massachusetts.
At Tuesday’s job fair in Chicopee , which was co-hosted by the local chamber of commerce, there were 29 employers with 60 job openings and scores of un employed or under employed veterans.
Nicholas Beaudoin of Westfield got out of the Army last April and is looking for work.
The US Labor Department this week awarded $1.7 million in grants to New England organizations to provide job training for homeless veterans. Soldier On of Northampton received two grants of $200,000 each. The organization’s president, John Downing says it’ll provide training for up to 160 homeless vets