Veterans returning home face unemployment struggle - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Veterans returning home face unemployment struggle

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PASCO, Wash.-- Many of you enjoyed a day off work Monday in observance of Veterans Day. But many of the veterans we're honoring are doing everything they can just to find work.

Veterans give so much to our country during their service, but when they come back home the transition is tough and many of them are struggling just to get by.

Enlistment after 9/11 went up and now many of those soldiers are finishing their duty, which adds to the number of veterans looking for work in a struggling economy.

"They're reaching a point where if they don't find income, they don't find the job, then they're going to be looking at desperate circumstances," said Cheryl Parker, Employment Assistance Specialist at Columbia Basin Veterans Coalition.

Blending back into society can be a tough road for some veterans returning from the battlefield.

Some even end up homeless because they can't find a job. A lot of attention gets focused on wounded warriors and the unemployed can get overlooked.

"There's a lot of pride in the fact that, I'm not disabled but I'm unemployed," Parker said.

Sometimes it's hard for vets to speak out about the stigma that some employers have about hiring veterans.

"When you come back here to the states and you're out of country, you're out of theater, there's not too many employment agencies that are going to be willing to hire somebody with the qualifications of carrying a weapon," said Ben Caraway, veteran.

Many vets go back to school to help increase their chances of starting a good career.

"So while going to school and while trying to hold down a minimum wage job, getting all your assignments done in classes and worrying about staying alive, minimum wage just isn't cutting it," Caraway said.

That lifestyle of trying to make ends meet and feeling like the odds are stacked against you takes many veterans back into service.

"Me and my battle buddies are concerned, they're in the same boat I am. Let's go active. Lets get deployed again. It's tax free. You get hazardous pay, stuff of that nature. It's more financial security. Everybody likes to have money in their pocket," Caraway said.

The average unemployment rate for veterans in Washington is 8.8%.

It's even worse for younger veterans, 18 through 34-year-olds have the highest unemployment rate at 12.5%.