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WATCH: Vets Sound Off About Jobs

'Work, altogether right now, is hard to find.' - Andrew Smith III, 29.

Maryland veterans are speaking out, as this video shows. They fought overseas, sometimes on multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and returned home to find sparse job opportunities.

Patch has been covering the issues of unemployed veterans in our series entitled To see a list of businesses interested in hiring vets, go .

Editors recently interviewed about a dozen veterans at a job fair in Baltimore hosted by the Maryland Department of Transportation, where veterans spoke about the transition from military to civilian life, and the shocking realities of the 2012 economy.

“It's been pretty nip and tuck—I’ve been supporting myself by taking draws out of my annuity fund and looking for jobs here and there when I can,” said John Richard, 55, of Dundalk, who served in the Army from 1976 to 1980.

“It’s morally wrong when you have an individual willing to serve for his country, that he or she wouldn’t be welcome back with more than open arms,” Richard added.

In Maryland, the 8.9 percent average unemployment rate among the 28,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is higher than the state’s overall average of 7 percent.

Nationally, the unemployment rate is at 30 percent for veterans younger than the age of 25, compared to 8.3 percent overall.

“Right now is really tough. Work altogether right now is hard to find—even entry level is pretty hard to find at the moment,” said Andrew Smith III, 29, of Baltimore, who served two tours in Iraq in the Marine Corps as a field radio operator.

Weigh in below: What ideas do you have for government, non-profits or business leaders to help more veterans get jobs?

Are you a veteran looking for a job and want to tell your story? Email lisa.rossi@patch.com.

For more in this series:

MG42 May 14, 2012 at 12:30 PM
So Paul, basically what you are saying is that corporations respond to incentives in a rational and predictable way? Don't you try to maximize your income? Don't you minimize your taxes? Our quality of life is the result of corporations employing us by producing things that we want, not from government. Btw, I challenge you to name a single "free market" leader. Nearly every politician supports tons of regulation and government intrusions. You have a very distorted worldview.
Paul Amirault May 14, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Ohai, thank you for a comment that does not contain vitriol or personal attacks. I am a former practicing CPA for national firms, a real estate developer, and business owner for nearly 30 years. I sign the front of paychecks and deal with regulation in the homebuilding and land development industry continually. Much of that regulation I don't like and think is unnecessary. I have a vast amount of experience in many businesses besides real estate as well. Not bragging, just giving you a background. When I talk about "free market" leaders, Obama and every President before him believe in our capitalistic society. The difference is Republicans tend to lean toward no regulation and Democrats tend to lead to over regulation. Regulation is a necessary and despised evil. Regarding my view of corporations, I believe every "citizen" has a moral obligation to their country, even if it affects the bottom line. When WWII occurred, corporations did not volunteer to go to war, people did. During Vietnam War, we didn't draft corporations to die, we drafted people. So when I see a corporation hiding profits overseas to maximize earnings and then use our Armed Forces (people) to defend their business interests, it deeply offends me. That is my distorted worldview.
Ron Compton May 14, 2012 at 01:12 PM
I ran into this many a time in my career. Employers would hire someone with a 4 year degree and no experience over a veteran with 6 years experience doing the job they were hiring for. Hire a vet, I you will not be disappointed.
MG42 May 14, 2012 at 01:26 PM
"Ohai, thank you for a comment that does not contain vitriol or personal attacks." That's really rich coming from someone who's last comment to me told me to suck on my thumb. If you think Obama and Romney are free market leaders, you have absolutely no idea what a free market is. Republicans and Democrats do not believe in free markets at all.
HyattsvilleCouldBeBetter May 14, 2012 at 01:31 PM
@tbw - good point If Vets are returning only to find their Jobs being taken by college graduates (Which is no walk in the park) then vets have the ability to go get degrees and have them paid for by the gov. Considering the current student debt crisis, I consider this more than a fare deal for veterans.
Kathy May 14, 2012 at 01:42 PM
No one believes that businesses should not entitled to make profits--profitable businesses help everyone. But those profits should not come at the expense of the people who make those profits possible. There are definitely too many regulations that cause unnecessary expense to legitimate businesses and make things more difficult. However, over the past century laws and regulations have prevented (to an extent anyway) companies from reducing wages below a certain minimum whenever there was high unemployment, hiring children, discriminating against certain races and religions, forcing workers to work overtime without pay, putting workers in danger, damaging our environment without recourse--there are many regulations that are needed to protect people from unbridled corporate earning potential. If all corporations were "good citizens" who could be trusted to balance profits with responsibility, then I would say sure, get rid of all those regulations. But anyone who actually believes that has their own distorted view.
MG42 May 14, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Kathy, I think you have a lot of delusional ideas about corporations that simply aren't true or are gross misrepresentations without considering the alternatives that workers have. It's sad that our government schools have done such a good job of convincing people that government is necessary.
Hollee Sifford May 14, 2012 at 02:24 PM
So sad these men and women fight for our countries freedom and safety and then the country turns their back on them when they return from one of the TOUGHEST jobs there is....SURVIVAL at the highest level.....
Jeff Hawkins May 14, 2012 at 02:44 PM
@Lee Havis Very, very well said Lee.....
Ron Compton May 14, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Hyattsville. I agree with your comments about current returing vets. But I served 1980-1986. No GI Bill it was called VEAP and as a college program for vets it sucked. I paid/worked my way through college. And yes I am still paying off a loan.
Jim Coyle May 14, 2012 at 05:07 PM
How about some WPA type program like we had during the last depression? It put people to work doing necesary public works projects (many of our roads, bridges and parks came out of this) and provided minimum incomes to survive as well as dignity and skills development. Our vets should be working using their well-earned skills. If the private sector won't respond then the government must. It is the moral thing to do.
mighty1 May 14, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Atleast there was work when I returned from Vietnam in 68,better than I can say for now.Being an xbaby killer is better than being an unemployed hero;the job stays with you long after the flag wavers go home.I guess we keep sending our young men to die in foreign lands to keep the 13% of the people who support these wars safe at night.We should be building our own roads and bridges instead of someone elses.We better watch ourselves,the Vietnamese and the Afgans could be sailing up the Potomac tomorrow.Welcome home brothers!
Kathy May 14, 2012 at 05:27 PM
I am not sure which is sadder--that business interests have done such a good job of convincing (some) people that government is not necessary, or that our "government run schools" (as opposed to private schools, I guess) have obviously done such a poor job of teaching history, so that people have no idea what life was like for the average American before the big bad government stepped in with its interfering little laws. I am sure that you are a very trusting person, which is very sweet, but I personally do not trust all business leaders to do the right thing, just because they are such nice guys.
Theresa Defino May 14, 2012 at 05:34 PM
"Nationally, the unemployment rate is at 30 percent for veterans younger than the age of 25, compared to 8.3 percent overall." That's not an apples-to-apples comparison. The unemployment rate for everyone under age 25 is 16.4%. Also, that 30% may not be accurate. http://vets.syr.edu/_assets/researchdocs/employment/Employment%20Situation%20May%202012.pdf "For the period ending in April 2012, post-9/11 veterans under the age of 25 still experienced one of the highest unemployment rates, at 18.6%. This represents a minimal increase of 0.8% from March 2012. Post-9/11 veterans between the ages of 25-34 and 45-54 experienced a decrease in unemployment for the month of April, at 11.5% and 4.6% respectively. The unemployment rates for veterans ages 25-34 are higher than their nonveteran counterparts, however nonveterans ages 45-54 have a higher unemployment rate than veterans in this same age range, at 6%."
MG42 May 14, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Kathy, I don't entirely trust businesses, but they have an incentive to do right by me or I'll take my money elsewhere and their profits go bye-bye. You instead choose to trust government leaders to do the right thing when a cursory read of the news indicates that they have all sorts of perverse incentives. More often than not, when government gets strong, government gets in bed with business. See opposition to Wegman's selling booze for an example. That benefits existing liquor stores, not consumers. I think you're a little to naive and trusting of government, sweetheart.
Kathy May 14, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Ohai--I didn't realize that you had such personal economic power. I don't particularly like the policies of Lockheed Martin , and yet despite the fact that I have not bought a single jet from them, their profits have not gone "bye bye." Muffin.
George Williams May 14, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Wow. I didn't know is was that bad for vets. thx
MG42 May 14, 2012 at 06:40 PM
I believe the biggest customer of Lockheed Martin is the government, not consumers. So thanks for helping support my exact point! Not sure what your specific issue with LM is, however.
Lisa Rossi (Editor) May 14, 2012 at 06:51 PM
On a slightly different angle, a friend of mine who reports for The News Tribune had a really interesting piece this weekend about how families pay the price for repeated war tours. He has spent some time in Afghanistan reporting for the story as well. http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/05/13/2143186/families-also-pay-price-for-repeated.html
Kathy May 14, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Sigh. I don't have an issue with Lockheed Martin--it was an illustration. The point is, as individual consumers we don't really have any power. I can pull my few thousand dollars out of Bank of America, but who cares? I can complain all I want over the environmental damage done by a big chemical company, but that is not going to make them fix anything. Without an active government representing the people, the people have no power. I don't understand where all this modern day paranoia about the government is coming from. We democratically elect our government (certain elections notwithstanding) and although it is not perfect, it is the envy of the world. Yes we have to pay taxes, we have to follow laws, we can't just do whatever we want--boo hoo. That is privilege and responsibility of being an American Citizen. My ancestors left countries with oppressive governments to come here, but I know of no one of my family or of friends that has ever had a problem with any U.S. governmental entity that they didn't cause themselves. In fact, the biggest problem with government now is that the voices of the people are drowned out by the voices of those who can afford to spend millions of dollars to get access.
MG42 May 14, 2012 at 08:01 PM
I follow your illustration, but it only serves my point. Bank of America will care when enough people pull their money from them (BOA would have gone under in 2008 were it not for the government you worship). If not enough people want to pull their money from BOA, maybe you should just admit that your're not queen of the world and you won't always get your way. Who do you think you are to be down on companies that other people like? I think it's wrong to eat meat but I don't think I'm smart enough to make that decision for everyone. Nor are you.
Paul Amirault May 14, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Ohai, using your crystal ball, I am curious what you or other Ron Paul supporters believe the immediate ramifications would have been if Bank of America, and other banks at that time, were allowed to go under as you put it.
MG42 May 14, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Paul I don't have a crystal ball and neither do you. It probably would have been chaotic as other investors purchased BOA's assets for pennies on the dollar and employees migrated from BOA to newly formed entities. By bailing them out we left the same people in charge and sent a signal to the market that Uncle Sam will always be there to socialize your risks, guaranteeing the next collapse. Also, Uncle Sam is responsible for the housing bubble in the first place.
Paul Amirault May 14, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Ohai, do the words "run on banks" mean anything to you. The economists surrounding both Bush and Obama were scared to death of the possibility.
Paul Amirault May 14, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Kathy and Ohai, time to leave this thread, horse has been beaten to death and some of us agree to disagree and others agree. Have a great day, Maybe catch you on another thread sometime.
MG42 May 14, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Paul, do the words "fractional reserve banking" mean anything to you? If your facts are correct and economists were scared of runs on banks, I guess we can summarily dismiss the FDIC insurance as another failed government program, no?
Theresa Defino May 15, 2012 at 12:02 AM
So the rate is not 30%, it's half of that and not much higher than people the same age. And for older vets, the unemployment rate is actually less than for non-vets.
Zoobie May 15, 2012 at 03:06 AM
When there was a Draft, during the 'Big Wars', vets were gauranteed their old job back when they came home. Without a Draft, it seems those gaurantees are no longer enforceable, or the company no longer exists, or the returning vets don't want their old job back. Speaking personally, if I had it to do over again (Vietnam and all), I'd stay in the military, do my twenty and then take a civilian job, having a pension to fall back on. My advice to a Vet is, stay in, go to as many service schools as possible, maybe even get a College Degree on Uncle Sam. Then, when you get out, you won't have any problem landing a job.There's not much in this economy to come home to!
Arbutus Town Crier June 07, 2012 at 12:12 PM
tbw, We vets did not go in for a job, we believe in freedom offering our lives to protect or rights and way of life, yours too. We go over there so we don't have another 9-11 here. The patriots in direct fire in action, to the 19 yr old at the helm of one of the largest ships in the world, the aircraft carrier! We do things you may have no idea the hardships that we carry. A friend of mine would go into Laos with a platoon only to come back alone. I know what it is like only to sleep 2 hours with my eyes open, sleep standing up. The stress beyond the human body and mind can take will takes a toll one. We do it for pride of an American for you. These Vets do age and people I went to school I couldn't have a conversation with them because I far more mature then who didn't serve. We come back home with working on the most advanced technology and millions of dollars equipment and direct responsibility. I have to say Rambo first blood tells it like it is at the end of the movie in the sheriff’s office. He states the truth for us vets. My father was a WW2 vet thanks for him help me understand you can only talk who was involved and been there. I have seen him chat with people that have never been, but when a Vet chatted with him smiles and laughs followed; it’s a bond similar that are Cancer survivors bond. For these Vets should be in the front of the line for job. But some will never understand.
Arbutus Town Crier June 07, 2012 at 12:42 PM
I'm not sure about vets gauranteed their old job back has changed. But when I was in your ID card gave you the privilege of hunting ,fishing without getting a licence and driving with an outdated drivers licence. I know now that some have to obtain a passport with their military card now. I agree with Zoobie stay in or get out ans if your lucky live with your parents you can get out get a degree and go back in as Officer and a leader, active enlisted military will give the greatest respect. You not only just respect for bars on your shoulder but respect for walking in there shoes!

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