A D.C. Army National Guard unit is honored Oct. 16 after being in Afghanistan. (Photo: Alex Wong, Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE -- More than nine months after returning from a second
deployment to Iraq, Kentucky National Guard Lt. David Doggette has been
struggling to translate his broad military experience - ranging from
driving a tank to leading a platoon - into a good civilian job.
a 30-year-old from Park City, Ky., who wants a career in safety
management, said finding a job in the tight labor market is made more
difficult by his long deployments away from the workforce - and the
possibility of more to come.
"Everybody's been very quick to thank
me for my service, and nobody's saying outright they're worried about
(future) deployments, but it's definitely an undercurrent," he said.
for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan remains a problem, but
it is even more of an issue for National Guard members who juggle jobs
and repeated deployments.
Although still higher than the overall
jobless rate of 7.8%, the unemployment rate for veterans of Iraq and
Afghanistan dropped to 9.7% in September, down from 11.7% a year
earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Guard's "citizen soldiers" - who, unlike former active-duty troops,
face the added difficulty of having to hold down jobs while being
deployed overseas for what is often a year at a time - had a jobless
rate last month of 16.3%, according to Guard figures.
senior director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Hiring our Heroes
program, which has held about 100 job fairs, said there's an array of
new programs to help.
They range from Guard outreach directly to
employers to job fairs put on by veterans groups, politicians and local
One problem being addressed is showing vets
how to bridge a "communication gap" as they try to translate their
military skills into experience that employers can see will make them
Employers "need to know that you also learn to
work well in teams, give and take orders, (can) be accountable for
millions of dollars of equipment and respond to changing circumstances,"
Ted Daywalt, president of the Georgia-based group
VetJobs, who testified about the issue before Congress earlier this
year, said it's a national problem. While recent veterans are
increasingly finding work, National Guard members - whose part-time role
differs from full-time, active-duty troops, but who in the past decade
have been mobilized at record levels - have faced steeper challenges.
few will openly admit it, "a lot of employers are reluctant to hire
them," said Daywalt, noting that many will volunteer for another
deployment to help pay bills at home. "We get thousands of calls a
month, and easily 40 to 50% of them are in the National Guard."
The (Louisville) Courier-Journal