A recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the unemployment rate among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans is slightly higher than 12 percent, but some are saying it is likely even higher.
"That's probably way too low," said Steven M. Botello, post service officer for Veteran of Foreign Wars Post # 7589 in Manassas.
He said veterans coming back from the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are much younger and are returning to a "buyers market" when it comes to finding jobs.
He said the current economic climate also allows employers to be more pointed in who they want to hire. He said many times an employer will pass up a verteran to hold out for a candidate who posseses the skills and educational background they feel is necessary to accomplish the job and maintain the business's bottome line.
Botello said about six years ago job applicants would encounter four or five job offers right out of college, but that is not the case anymore. This highlights the struggle for everyone—not just veterans—to find a job, he said.
Botello, who has been working with veterans for about 20 years, said he is seeing "a broad breath" of vets seeking help for financial obligations.
"I just met with someone over 50 years of age looking for help," Botello said.
Botello, who served in the Gulf War, said he comes in contact with vets on a daily basis who are seeking job/employment information. "I was among veterans looking for work in 2009-2010 after my business began to wind down," Botello said. "I am the most qualified guy to help."
Botello said that as a service officer for VFW Post 7589 he relays job fair and resume information, among other things to assist vets in the job hunting process. Some of them just need to know what to do and where to look, he said.
The percentage of veterans to the overall population in the U.S. is at its lowest at just one or two percent, Botello said. "There's a huge disconnect between vets and non-veterans in this country," he said. "Employers are not looking to hire vets, they are looking for skills, education and meeting their bottom line."
The overall veteran unemployment rate came in at 8.3 percent, which is about the same as the national average, according to the recent report.
For more information about veteran's services in our area, call the VFW Post #7589 at (703) 361-5554.