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An unexpected battle

Veterans struggle to find jobs in a recession economy. Some employers don't see the benefits of military service, they say.

November 10, 2011|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Albert Viray, of Glendale, at Accurate Manufacturing, his first civilian job, in Glendale on Thursday, November 10, 2011. Viray, a former Marine, left the military in 2008. Unable to fine steady work, Viray was able to take the skills he learned from his father, to become a computer numerical control apprentice at Accurate Manufacturing in September. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
Albert Viray, of Glendale, at Accurate Manufacturing,…

Danny Baca has applied to dozens of jobs and always hears the same line: “We’ll get back to you.”

But they don’t.

The Glendale resident is one of several local veterans who are struggling to find employment.

The jobless rate in October for those who served during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is 12.1% , compared to the civilian rate of 9%. This disparity, which has lasted for several months, has stirred the political pot in the days leading up to Veterans Day. On Thursday, the Senate passed part of President Obama’s jobs plan that gives a tax credit to companies that hire veterans . The bill is now pending before the House.

“It is very discouraging, putting in the time and effort just looking for jobs and being disappointed and always being worried,” said Baca, a 30-year-old who served in the Marine Corps through 2008. He works off and on with the Army National Guard, but that doesn’t bring him a steady paycheck.

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Some employers, veterans said, don’t always consider military service as job experience , while others may shy away from hiring veterans because of the high incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in that group.

A tight job market following a protracted recession also doesn’t help. And following the coming drawdown in forces overseas, the unemployment rate may shoot up, especially as some military branches cut services short to save money, said Trevor Albertson, California Department of Veterans Affairs’ deputy secretary of veterans services.

“You’ve got the economic downturn and tons of veterans coming home,” Albertson said. “It’s a perfect storm of terrible things unfortunately.”

Albertson said veterans returning from wars in the past faced similar unemployment issues, many challenged by a lack of education. Earlier this week the Department of Veterans Affairs and California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office announced an agreement to streamline the application process for those exiting active duty.

But getting retrained doesn’t always help.

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