Veterans Face New Battle in Private-Sector Job Market
"They are more disciplined than a nonmilitary person, which is good, and more focused, but they can be stiffer as people," says Tronex president Donald Chu, who has 6 veterans working his 70 person staff. "That might not translate so well for some firms."
For a big firm like General Motors , which employs some 5,000 veterans and has several programs to help retired military personnel, they say they don't see transitional problems hiring vets and "will continue to draw on that talent pool."
Some vets are finding work. Gerry Peppmuller of San Antonio, Texas, is retiring as a major in the U.S. Army in August after 21 years of duty.
The 45-year-old Peppmuller says he has a job lined up with a railroad corporation that they created for him, after getting the interview through Orion International.
"We as veterans just need to get in front of people to make our case," said Peppmuller, who is married and has two older children. "Corporations are looking for leaders and there's no better place to get them than from the military."
There may be too many leaders to choose from in the years ahead, however. An estimated one million military personnel will be leaving the services over the next four years, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
"Americans have to ask themselves what they want to do with veterans," said Norred of Vets4Heroes. "More money should be spent on them. Vets are homeless and jobless. It's time to fix that going forward."
For Ovaldo Rivera, his worry is the current job picture, even if it means probably rejecting a couple of lower-paying offers that don't seem right for him.
"One was to supervise a gas and oil cleaning crew, and it wasn't something I wanted," said the former drill instructor, who is working toward getting his bachelor's degree in applied management.
"But I do have a possible offer as a real estate land man for an oil company," Rivera said. "I'd be checking out who owns what section of land for drilling, and it would pay $200 to $300 a day. I'd like that."
Rivera's job search experience has given him a chance to offer advice for future vets — as well as reflect on his accomplishments.
"Start as early as you can before you leave the service," Rivera suggested. "Look at placement firms, get out and meet people, and network with other vets. It's not easy, but I know that with my experience in the military, I can learn anything."