The jobless rate has declined a bit in the last year, but among veterans who served in conflict since 2003, it is increasing. The unemployment rate for vets serving since the Iraq war began has risen 1.5 percentage points to more than 12 percent in the past year.
Many veterans say they face a tougher job market than civilians. Tom Tarantino spent a decade in the military, where he served in Iraq and led a platoon. But when he separated from the military in 2007, he spent nearly a year looking for a job.
Tarantino says that although corporate America says it wants to hire vets, so far it's amounted to little more than talk.
"This is the first generation of business leaders in America that's largely never served in the military," he says.
Tom Tarantino stands in a bunker in Iraq. He served in the military for 10 years, and now works as an advocate for veterans at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
As a result, he says, vets and prospective employers often don't see eye-to-eye. Tarantino says he once explained to an interviewer that he'd been a company commander in the military, running an organization with 400 employees and three multimillion-dollar budgets.
"The next sentence [the interviewer] said was, 'Well, you know, if you took this job you might run a group of up to 30 people. Do you think you could handle that level of responsibility?' "
Tarantino says it's not just the cultural disconnect. Military drivers and medics, for example, aren't automatically licensed to do the same job in the private sector once they leave the military. That makes the job transition harder.
Tarantino is now a legislative advocate for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. He says he hopes the recently enacted Hire Heroes Act will provide more counseling and vocational training. It also gives tax incentives to employers who hire vets.
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