By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Labor Department reports that unemployment is down nationally among veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The rate has been down five months in a row, bringing it to a five-year low. But local veteran advocates say there’s still a lot of work to do.

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The Labor Department doesn’t break its’ figures down enough to say, statistically, whether Philadelphia area veterans are enjoying the same employment gains as younger vets elsewhere in the country.

Tim Meserve of the Veterans Multi-Service and Education Center says the statistics don’t reflect the problem of underemployment.

“And we see it every day,” Meserve says. “And we’re on the front line of that and really we have not seen a slow down.”

Underemployment is what Cassondra Flanagan faced when she was discharged.

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Cassondra Flanagan (credit: Pat Loeb)

Cassondra Flanagan (credit: Pat Loeb)

“I could find minimum wage jobs,” she said. “People were eager to say, ‘oh you’re a veteran! Here’s $10 an hour, or $8 or $9 dollars an hour.’ And that’s not enough.”

Flanagan now works at the Center and says the problem persists. “That does a lot to your morale. And you already have a lot that’s happened to your morale if you’re a war veteran. It’s just bad.”

The center has several job training programs. Meserve says they’re all full.

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“There’s a lot of companies out there that want to hire veterans. We have veterans and would love to form some strategic partnerships to get veterans into their companies.”