When the US begins withdrawing troops from Afghanistan next month, thousands of veterans will return to our area in need of jobs.

(Sound of recruiter talking about available jobs)

With job fairs like this one, just for veterans, and a “veteran’s preference” on many job applications, you’d think veterans would be the most employable group in the country.

(Recruiter to job applicant:) “Right now we don’t have any CDL (commercial driver’s license) driver positions available…”

But the US Bureau of Labor Statistics says unemployment is higher than average for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.  The reasons are complicated, but some veterans think employers are leery of them.

(Bill Diamond.)

Bill Diamond (right), a job counselor at the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service & Education Center, agrees.

“I just don’t think people trust veterans now anyway,” he says.  “I think they have a connotation of these ‘crazy’ vets coming home, you know?”

It is true that about a quarter of recent veterans have behavioral health issues, notably post-traumatic stress disorder (see Part 2), which can lead to substance abuse, even incarceration, further complicating the job search.

(Marsha Four. Photo by Pat Loeb)

But Marsha Four (right), director of the Veterans Multi-Service Center in Philadelphia, says it still seems that vets are getting a raw deal.

“You know, they’ve been through a lot, and now they come home and they have to go through this situation also,” she says.

Extended interview with Marsha Four

The vets’ center offers job training, and sometimes actual jobs.

Kevin Miracle, suffering from PTSD, was at his wit’s end looking for work until the center hired him to do office work, even though he had no experience.

“I was going to Walmart, Acme, things I thought were beneath me, that were going to be humiliating,” he recalls, “and they turned me down!  Told me I was overqualified.”

His message to employers is that veterans make excellent workers.

“They take orders well — they only need to be told to do something once.  They’re always on time.  They’ve lived this regimented life. They’re going to be the best employees you have,” Miracle says.

Reported by Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio 1060

Listen to the KYW Regional Affairs Council series, “Coming Home,” by Pat Loeb…

Part 1: The ‘Signature Injury’ of This War

Part 2: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Part 3: Combatting Joblessness Among Vets

Part 4: Combatting Homelessness Among Vets

Additional e-x-t-e-n-d-e-d podcasts:

Pat Loeb interviews traumatic brain injury survivor Lt. Sam Console

Pat Loeb interviews traumatic brain injury expert Kacy Cullen

TBI survivor Sam Console talks about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Gulf War veteran Kevin Miracle talks about living with PTSD

Dr. Edna Foa of the University of Pennsylvania describes her “prolonged exposure” therapy for PTSD

Marsha Four, director of the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service Center, on veteran unemployment

Kevin Miracle, a once-jobless Gulf War vet now working at the Philadelphia Multi-Service Center

Vincent Kane, director of the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans