The unemployment rate for military veterans remains higher than the national average. Veterans in western Massachusetts had an opportunity on Friday to get job search advice from employment specialists.
U.S. Army veteran James Scurry of Springfield knows how frustrating looking for a job can be.
Scurry was one of more than 100 veterans who registered for the event organized by the Springfield Department of Veterans’ Services and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Held on the campus of Western New England University the program featured workshops on such topics as networking, online employment searches, preparing a resume and job interviewing skills. Speakers talked about government programs intended to assist veterans to obtain jobs and provide incentives to employers to hire veterans.
The unemployment rate for veterans is just under 10 percent according to the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are an estimated 1 million unemployed veterans. As military discharges increase the ranks of the unemployed veterans will likely grow.
Experts have struggled to pinpoint reasons for the high unemployment rate among veterans. Things such as frequent National Guard deployments and misinformation about post traumatic stress disorder are frequently cited.
Thomas Belton, Director of Veterans’ Services for the City of Springfield, said the job market, and job searching, has changed dramatically in the last few years. He said it can be difficult for veterans to communicate their employable skills in an on-line application.
Kevin Lynn of the Future Works Career Center in Springfield, said veterans need to do a better job of marketing themselves to potential employers.
The Obama administration says ending homelessness among veterans is a priority and that goes hand in hand with lowering the veterans’ unemployment rate. Jim Seney , of the Homeless Veterans Program at the Northampton VA Medical Center, said the agency has hired peer employment specialists and is doing community outreach.
Seney said based on his own observations the veterans unemployment rate in western Massachusetts is higher than the local average.