EL PASO – Veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq come home to face physical and emotional problems, but their biggest challenge may be the transition from military service to a job in civilian life.
Along with the trauma of war, they left behind the security of a monthly paycheck to face the new uncertainty of a stagnant economy with little job growth.
Navy veteran Danny Macias who left the military in 1994 has been working in construction but was laid off from a job in June and hasn’t found new work. “Finding a job is hard” he said.
The Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) at Fort Bliss was set up to help veterans transition to civilian life. Randy Stovall, Transition Services Manager, said the program’s main goal is to prepare soldiers to market themselves for employment.
ACAP helps soldiers with resume writing, translating military skills into civilian language, how to conduct job interviews, job searches and how to dress professionally for a job interview.
The transition process takes one year for soldiers who are nearing the end of their term of service and two years for soldiers who are retiring. Mr. Stovall said ACAP helps anywhere from 350 to 400 soldiers a month, averaging 4000 soldiers per year.
Military spouses can also use the program to find a job. ACAP holds two job fairs per year with 50 to 100 companies that attend to hire veterans. Specialist Koty LaPorte of Gladwin, Michigan said his goal when he leaves the Army is to be “successful and get a job.”
The Texas Veterans Commission works in partnership with Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande. Associate Director of Workforce Relations Lauren Macias-Cervantes said veterans could look for work at workintexas.com.
Veterans Employment Representative Mr. Bonilla said there are two things that make the Texas Veterans Commission unique. “We have employment, education and claims under one roof which allows us to see the veteran as a whole and we have Veterans Employment Representatives who go out and seek veteran-only jobs.” The Texas Veterans Leadership Program is one program that helps veterans find jobs.
According to the Texas Veterans Commission “as of the second quarter of 2011 the unemployment rate for Texas veterans is 8.1 percent and the national average for Gulf War era II is 12.1 percent.” Last year 38,714 Texas veterans found jobs.
States receive funds from the Department of Labor. Texas received the most money with $11,462,000 for fiscal year 2011. Texas is leading the nation in veterans who are finding jobs.
Macias-Cervantes said that the Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande is holding a job expo on October 4th from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Judson F. Williams Convention Center. Their goal is to have 300 employers and 4000 jobs available. Army Community Service has two workshops programed for that day. The first workshop tells how to complete a federal application and the second workshop is to overcome barriers for military spouses.
The job expo is free to the public.