Veterans, employers work to combat unemployment
By Nathan PhelpsPress-Gazette MediaA customer needed help. After a quick and courteous response, Dan Urmanski closed the door on hisservice van and disappeared into a De Pere home to solve the problem.Urmanski is a U.S. Army and Army Reserve veteran who served as a food service specialist and combatmedic in the military. Now, he is a field premise technician with AT&T U-
verse, a job he’s held since
“A lot of my work skills had nothing to do with AT&T, but being military is what got me hired,” he said.“They gave me the chance I needed to succeed.”
In recent years, state and federal agencies and myriad companies have launched initiatives to getveterans
especially those who have served in the past dozen years
into the workforce. While theyhave some success stories, like Urmanski, veteran unemployment numbers show there is much work yetto be done.Businesses like AT&T, Humana, Wal-Mart, and motion and control technologies company Parker haveput a thrust on hiring veterans and helping them find the point where military skills overlap with civilian job skills. Other area companies, like Schneider National and Oshkosh Truck Corp., have a history of seeking out veterans.And others have joined the effort. Late last year, The Center for Rural Affairs, in conjunction with otheragricultural organizations, offered a webinar to veterans in an attempt to help them along the path tofarm and ranch ownership.Dan Becker, a Marine veteran of the 1991 Gulf War and a member of Desert Veterans of Wisconsin, saidhe senses some improvement in employment prospects for veterans, and events like job fairs aimed atveterans do help. But the job market remains rocky.
“With my experience with the members in our
group, it’s still tough finding jobs,” he said. “There are alot of initiatives out there and it does help veterans who are returning, but you’re not going tocompletely escape the job market and the condition it’s in. It’s still pretty tough out there.”
In a March report, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the unemployment rate for veterans who haveserved since September 2001 was 9.9 percent in 2012. The rate was 12.1 percent in 2011; 11.5 percentin 2010; 10.2 percent in 2009; and 7.3 percent in 2008, according to the bureau.The unemployment rate was 10.9 percent for those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan.AT&T launched an initiative this spring to hire 5,000 veterans over the next five years.Jay Orthmann, an AT&T finance manager in Milwaukee who served in the military police from 1981 to1985, said veterans bring skills to the table that may not be readily apparent from the job titles theycarried in the military.