Vets struggle to find work

“We have more than 13 million unemployed veterans, and these are just the documented ones,” Chris Wagner said. “When you look at the numbers, it has to apall you. But you have to remember, these numbers only account for a certain percentage of people – realistically it’s two to four times worse.”

A job seeker heads toward the Hero 2 Hired “Mobile Job Store” vehicle created to help bring career tools to military members and their families in Long Beach.

Chris Wagner says he has a bachelor’s degree, proven leadership skills, a positive attitude, Army-strong work ethic, and expertise in communications and strategy from his three years in the Army.

Yet the 33-year-old Long Beach resident has been told he’s “overqualified, too old, too nontraditional,” and that he’s fallen behind his civilian counterparts.

“It was disheartening, to say the least,” Wagner said of his latest job denial. “But, I’m afraid it is typical.”

For unemployed veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, rejection is a special ordeal, military officials say.

The national unemployment rate for veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq is 8.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For veterans age 24 and younger, the rate is 19.9 percent, or 7 points higher than their civilian counterparts of the same age. That compares with 8.3 percent unemployment nationally and 6.9 percent for all veterans.

A survey this year by the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America found that a quarter of its members couldn’t find a job to match their skill level, and half said they didn’t believe employers were open to hiring veterans.


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