In 2013, the unemployment rate averaged 9 percent for veterans (according to Reuter’s) compared with the current 6.7 percent for all Americans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While these stats demonstrate the employment difficulties facing many veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, they aren’t nearly as powerful (nor do they bring home the issue of veteran unemployment) as the personal tale of Army veteran Kayla Reyes.
Last week, a video of Reyes talking about how she felt discriminated against because of her service during an interview for a job with Macy’s went viral. Macy’s issued a response and offered her a job, but Reyes had already found a different job, as well as support from thousands of people who don’t want to see veterans treated this way.
The Call of Duty Endowment, a nonprofit that identifies and provides funding to effective job placement programs for veterans, recently released a moving video of other veterans talking about their difficulties finding employment in the hopes that many of them will achieve the kind of happy ending that Reyes did — and that more employers will become inspired to help vets find jobs.
“I have a purple heart because I was wounded in combat,” one veteran says on the video. ” I thought I was going to bring it in and people would be like, ‘You’re a warrior, that’s pretty awesome! Come on board, you’re good!’ But that wasn’t the case.”
“The jobs weren’t as good as I thought they would be,” a former Marine explains. “You were in the military, perfect. We have a security position. It’s nine dollars an hour. You’ll love it because you get to hold the gun again.”
One veteran says employers seem to have the vision of “Hollywood PTSD” in their heads. “People see these movies with these guys freaking out, and think that I’m the same way.” Another veteran speaks for many when he says, “Give me a chance. Let me prove myself.”