An overwhelming percentage believe vets are a benefit to their business, said Rosalinda Maury, research director for the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.
"I think employers in general do get the value of hiring veterans," Maury said. "The problem is, they can't find them. The vets aren't applying for the right jobs."
That's where people like Marcelle Gerdes come in.
The retired U.S. Army master sargeant is a local veterans employment representative for Workforce Alliance, a state-chartered job placement and training agency.
Since she recruited for the Army, she knows how to talk to young people about finding a career. Gerdes said she tells veterans the reality of the current job market, but she also urges young veterans to use the Montgomery G.I. Bill to educate and train themselves.
"If you have the skills, I have a job available," she said.
Gerdes helped Rivas find a job less than two months after he was released from duty, and it took that long only because he waited a couple of weeks to seek help. He started as a security supervisor July 1 and plans to continue serving as staff sargeant with the Army Reserves.
Searching for a job is stressful and you begin to doubt yourself when you apply and never hear back from hiring managers, Rivas said. "I know there's competition out there."
After transitioning back and forth between military service and civilian work, Rivas has a variety of experience and knows how to handle job interviews.
Irvin, a veteran of the first Gulf War, was still a young man when he left the Marines and said adjusting to the lack of structure and commraderie was tough. A licensed electrician with 17 years experience, he also was working with Gerdes to find a job.
"Out here in the civilian life there is no structure. Cutthroat. Everything is Team I," he said.
Many returning vets need help navigating the job market.
Hiring managers need to know more than the fact you were honorably discharged from military service, Norton said. One young man he helped was managing a crew of helicopter mechanics when he left the service at age 25, but his resume failed to say he was in charge of 10 skilled mechanics keeping $250 million of equipment operational. Norton helped him rewrite the resume.
But it's often the "soft skills" that fail to get translated: loyalty, hard work, leadership under deadlines and dangerous conditions.
Norton said he's never worked a single day in logistics or supply chain in the private sector -- his military specialty -- but everything about his military service influences his daily work.
Managing a team, figuring out what resources are needed, mitigating the risk of failing to use resources properly, these are all things he is required to do as a manager for AT&T.;
"A lot of things are interchangeable," he said. "The terminology is often very different. It's tough to make the connection simply because of the cultural and language differences."
For instance, many companies hire project managers. "In the military we call them missions," Norton said.
It also helps unemployed veterans to talk to someone who has been there.
"It was tough coming home," Norton said. "The tempo is much different in corporate America than what you go through while deployed in the military -- 14-hour days for pretty much close to a year in a high-stress environment. Coming home, the absence of that was a considerable adjustment."
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