By Jenn Bernstein
MIDDLETOWN, Del.- Sergeant David Rogers served in the United States Marine Corps from 2000-2005. He’s lived in seven countries, worked on heavy artillery tanks and missile systems, and he’s well versed with electronics; but right now, he’s having trouble finding a full-time job.
Sgt. Rogers has been looking for two years. “It’s definitely been rough,” said Rogers.
Rogers was one of dozens of veterans hoping to network at a job fair held at the Middletown Memorial Fire Hall on West Green Street in Middletown, Delaware Monday afternoon. It was organized by the Delaware Congressional Delegation.
Rogers will get his bachelor’s degree in one year, but he’s found his unique skill set from his time in the Marines, can be difficult to use at home.
“In this area, it’s hard to find things that I qualify for,” said Rogers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the unemployment rate for veterans who served following 9/11 has dropped to 8.9 percent for July, compared to this time last year at 12.4 percent. It’s a hopeful statistic, but for veterans who are still looking, it’s just a number.
Rodney Pratt served in the Army from 1986-1989. He’s a disabled veteran whose seasonally employed by the state of Delaware, but he says he’s been looking for a permanent full-time job for two years.
“I’ve applied for at least 50 to 60 jobs in the two-year period,” said Pratt. “Either you’re not qualified enough, or because of my disability, or I’m just not the right person they wanted.”
Senator Tom Carper says job fairs- like Monday’s- as well as other outreach efforts are making a difference.
“Whether the unemployment rate for veterans is 8.5 percent or 4.5 percent, that’s too high,” said Carper. He says making sure veterans are aware of benefits- like the GI Bill- is an essential component to lowering the unemployment rate for veterans.
Another challenge on the issue is in the near future. Tens of thousands of men and women are expected home before 2014, as the U.S. reduces its presence in Afghanistan. Tax incentives for employers who hire veterans are also set to expire by the end of the year.
Political insiders say it’s an issue certain lawmakers are already discussing, and one Congress, as well as the newly elected, or re-elected president will soon tackle.
The Delaware Congressional Delegation organized another veteran job fair on Friday, August 24th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Milford High School. For more information you can go to http://carper.senate.gov/veterans