|By Kyle Kennedy, The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.|
He speaks softly and with the tranquil demeanor of a man who is not easily rattled. A stock clerk at the Lake Miriam Square Publix, he said he hopes to move up in the company and looks forward to the day he can buy shares in the employee-owned chain. There are plans for college, too.
Imig wears an apron and name tag these days, but he used to wear a helmet and carry a rifle as an infantryman in the
"I would say a lot of that (military experience) flowed over into here," said Imig, a
"It's to help veterans know that we have many positions that match their skills and experience," said
Finding work for the nation's returning veterans has been an ongoing challenge. The unemployment rate for recent vets is falling, yet it continues to exceed the national level.
The jobless rate for veterans who served at any time since
Recent vets have struggled to find work in a post-recession job market that has been difficult for many job hunters. Skills taught by the military don't always match up with employers' requirements, and research indicates that post-traumatic stress, or perceptions about PTSD, are still barriers to employment.
A number of businesses have stepped up their efforts to employ veterans. Hiring Our Heroes, a
Imig said he feels lucky about how his own job search panned out. He left the
The transition back to civilian life "was challenging. It took me about three months just to get fully used to it, because you've got your sleep schedule you're trying to get used to, and being around family and friends again," he said. "You can't do much but give it time, merge in slowly."
Fortin left the Marines in August after a career that included running a local recruiting office. He has applied for jobs ranging from warehouse positions to insurance sales, but has yet to land an offer. The married father of two children says he cannot afford to work a minimum wage job with irregular hours.
In August, Fortin will begin training to become a firefighter, and said he hopes that will finally lead to a stable job. For now, his family is making due with his wife's salary as a teacher, and loans from his parents.
"Not to toot my own horn, but I'm combat-decorated and have been recognized as a recruiter," the
"I've been looking for a job the entire time I've been out," Fortin said. "It's very, very disheartening."
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|Source:||McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|