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To the Editor;
Depending on who you ask and who you choose to believe, America’s unemployment rate is somewhere between 10 and 17 percent. That’s shocking enough, but consider that for every job that does come open, there is tendency to first offer those positions to family, friends, friends of the family and political allies. This sharply reduces the number of openings that really are open and not just merely posted to give the impression of being on the up and up. The best job opportunities are seldom even posted to the public.

Sadly, our veterans are finding themselves out of the loop when it comes time to re-enter the civilian job market. Without the day-to-day contacts, networking, hob knobbing and elbow rubbing of the last several years, we find ourselves quite often on the outside looking in. While plenty of lip service is paid to appreciating our military, there doesn’t appear to be much traction where the rubber meets the road.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor Statistics, over 1.1 million vets are unemployed. Approximately 250,000 of those are your veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The unemployment rate for those age 24 and younger is 30.2 percent and for those 25 to 34 it is 17.9 percent. That is hard to believe! These kids are our heroes. For old dogs like me (35 and older), we often find ourselves discriminated against because of our age. Even the federal government shuts the door on us with maximum limits for certain jobs. How’s that for “equal opportunity”?  I wonder if we could play the age card and buy into that diversity game?

Some vets have returned home and been denied unemployment benefits by the state of Ohio. This is beyond shameful. Some thank you and welcome home!  More like, “We don’t want you, you are not one of us anymore, go somewhere else!” The reasons vary by case, but there appears to me to be an effort to keep these people out of the system to adjust unemployment figures. They can’t be counted as jobless if we don’t accept them as such in the first place. After all, there are elections coming up and politicians need to keep their jobs. That’s just my opinion on a very disgusting issue.

A recent study shows vets have trouble translating military experience into civilian language and application. I would agree this is an issue, but not a failure by the vets. I would argue that language difficulty lies with the civilian market. I have no trouble making the translation, “Drew fire to help fire team locate sniper,” translates into “team player, selfless devotion to task at hand.”

“Multiple combat tours” can mean “will do whatever it takes to accomplish goals.”

“Applied tourniquets to the wounded in combat, called in medevac” translates into “multi-tasking like you never imagined possible.”

Just because these men and women may not know all the current buzz words and catch phrases does not mean they cannot fix that vehicle, stock that shelf or drive that truck. Trust me, if they tell you they can do it, they can and will probably do it better than anyone else you can hire.

For those of you who have the opportunity to hire a vet, consider this: we have worked weekends, holidays, our birthday and night shift. There was no overtime, comp time, labor strikes, union meetings, collective bargaining etc.: it all paid the same. We have traveled to the places of your nightmares because the job required it. We worked with hazardous materials, in outdoor environments where rain, sandstorms, 140-degree heat, sleet and snow did not cancel the work for the day. For many of us, a 12-hour day was a normal day and many of them went well beyond that. At times, sleep was a luxury, not a right. Some of us have been shot, shot at, rocketed, mortared and blown up while our contemporaries and other potential applicants were out getting “bombed” at the local club or on a spring break, attacking some “dangerous” remote beach down south. We have done without food, shelter or clean clothes. We have walked holes right through brand new socks, covered the hole and the new blister with duct tape and pressed on. For many of us, saying goodbye to family and friends wasn’t just a “see you tomorrow”, it was more along the lines of, “I may never see you again.” Do veterans deserve special consideration? I definitely think so! The real question is, do you?

To help level the playing field for veterans in other communities, when a public service position is open, a test is ordered to gather a list of qualified applicants and veterans are given five to 10 additional points on these civil service exams depending on time of service, awards and disability. Usually the top three applicants are given first consideration and the new hire is chosen from that pool unless all three are disqualified. This eliminates favoritism and nepotism. The applicant had to actually earn the right to be in the hiring bracket. I have not seen any such exams for positions in Carrollton or Carroll County. Perhaps we would all be better served if such positions were filled through examination. This would emphasize what an applicant knows rather than who an applicant knows. As it is now, hiring procedures vary from office to office and you can draw your own conclusions on the validity of such practices.

For the private sector, there are tax incentives to those who hire vets. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit offers a $2,400 tax break for hiring a veteran and a $4,800 break for hiring a disabled veteran. There is legislation pending to double the incentive. There is a five-year window with the program, but is also under review. There are 765,000 vets and employers who could benefit from the removal of this obstacle. If you are a business owner with veterans on your payroll, look into this tax credit. If your veteran employees are excluded by the five-year window, start calling senators and congressmen.  It is your money and you deserve to keep it as a thank you for being a true patriot and hiring our vets!

Carroll County is home to many veterans and we have many more returning home soon. I’m proud to say none of the vets I know entered the service for financial reasons. It was to answer a higher calling or carry on a family tradition of service. All who entered into the military since 911 knew full well there was a great likelihood they were going to war and still volunteered to do so. These sound like good employees to me. Hire one!

Eddie McLean
Carrollton, OH


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