Struggling Veterans Fill Unemployment Lines

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Many Americans lined up, Wednesday, to honor the nation's veterans. But many veterans will be lined up, Thursday, looking for work as unemployment hits the group hard.
    
Iraq war veteran Stephanie Hicks had planned to add Afghanistan to her tour of duty when she got sidelined.

"I was on my way to Afghanistan, for my second tour," said Sgt. Hicks. "And I got hurt during combative. So I came home, and was looking for a job and couldn't find anything."

The search for jobs in South Carolina, as in many places across the country, is tough.

"It seems like, you know, for veterans, it would be a lot easier," Hicks added. "But that's what they say, 'Oh, it should be easy to get a job when you get back.' No!"

In March, when the latest statistics were released, the jobless rate for veterans was 11.1 percent-- a full three points higher than the national rate. 

And for the youngest veterans, aged 20 to 24, it was an ominous 15 percent.

Now that the national rate is higher, it's likely worse for veterans.

"One of the difficulties is, because of the military careers, sometimes it's difficult to translate the military career into civilian jobs," said David Walker of One Stop Career Center.

Those who try to give job assistance know the vets have a lot to offer.

"One of the things we tell employers (is that) at least vets are disciplined," Walker added. "They are trained. They know how to do their job, and they're dedicated to their job."

President Obama signed an executive order, Monday, requiring that veterans receive preferred treatment for federal jobs.  Still, there is little being generated for any private sector jobs, much less for veterans.

With a lot of perseverance, Hicks did finally land a job, and she has a word of encouragement for her fellow veterans facing a harsh economy.

"Don't give up," she said. "Do not give up."

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