STAMFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – The war in Iraq is over and operations in Afghanistan are winding down. As veterans return home, their next challenge is finding a job.
WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The StoryREAD MORE: Gen. Colin Powell, Former Secretary Of State, Dies At 84 Due To Complications From COVID-19
It’s easy to spot unemployed veterans. Many still have crew cuts, spit-shine shoes, and resumes in hand.
“Atrocious. Nothing at all out there. You’re doing 10 to 15 interviews a day and not getting a call back. No one’s hiring. Everyone’s blaming it on the economy,” Victor O’Shauna of Stamford told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.
O’Shauna was an MP in the Air Force and has plenty of security experience with canines. But now that he’s back home, it’s a struggle.
“I have a cousin who has a double masters and she can’t even get a job,” he said.
RELATED: More Stores From Main Street
According to federal labor statistics, the job market is improving for veterans.
In July, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent for those who served after 9/11. A year earlier it was 12.4 percent.
“I applied for a position at the city of Danbury for highway maintainer and there was over 300 applicants,” said John Banwa from Danbury, who worked heavy machinery in the Army. “Oh, it’s very tight. Very competitive.”READ MORE: Gen. Colin Powell Remembered Fondly At His Alma Mater, CCNY, And In The Bronx, Where He Was Raised
“It’s hard. I mean, you can find the little jobs that’ll get you by, but it’s not enough to really live off of,” said Daniel Gillmore, who was a sergeant in the Marines and did three tours in Iraq.
65 companies turned out for a recent career fair in Stamford hosted by Hearst Media and the local developer Building and Land Technology.
“We wanted to find a way to give back to the veterans who have given so much for our country,” spokesperson T.J. White said. “We hope to be able to do this possibly multiple times a year to help give back as much as we can.”
“It is encouraging. It is nice to know people are out there who do support what you’ve done and where your future is going. So, it’s a good feeling,” said O’Shauna. “We do have that drive, that discipline. Wake up early, show up on time, and get it going. Trying to get into a job where you can wake up and have a purpose is what we’re striving for.”
David Marso with Ridgefield One said he is looking for people with I.T. experience.
“One thing I like about veterans is that they come with a lot of organizational team skills, things that are difficult to train people to acquire,” he told Adams.
Some veterans believe employers are reluctant to hire for fear of emotional scars from the battlefield. But the government does now offer tax breaks for hiring veterans.
Andrew Gabriel from Norwalk served with the Army in Afghanistan. He’s taking matters into his own hands.
“I want to start a non-profit for veterans with P.T.S.D.,” he said.MORE NEWS: Some Play Blame Game As Gas Prices Reach Highest Level In Years, But There's No Dispute It's Impacting Bottom Line For Many Families
Do you know of any job opportunities for veterans? Please share them in the comments section below.