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Returning National Guard Troops Face High Unemployment at Home

By Daniel Cherry | Published 14 Jun 2011 04:44pm | comments

As National Guard troops return from deployments as many as 22 percent across the country can't find jobs when they get back home. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports on efforts to lower that number even in difficult economic times.

Mississippi's unemployment rate is hovering around ten percent and everyone is having trouble finding work, but National Guard troops are hit especially hard. Edward Gathman recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan. He says he had a difficult time getting a job because some employers were afraid he would be unstable after seeing combat.

"When they tell you they can't hire you for that reason or they don't even call you back or anything...I know it gets a lot of people angry who were over there with me, but it makes me mad because we just did the whole country a favor. I've lost friends to defend this country and nobody cares to give back to us."

Gathman recently found a job installing security systems with the help of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve in Mississippi. Jackie Sharp is the Program Support Manager. She says returning from deployment, then bring unsure of how they'll support their family can be emotionally draining.

"When you've been gone for a year or however long you've been gone, you're having to come back and get adjusted to the real world. Then you don't have a job, and you have no money coming in. Where do you go? It just puts problems on top of problems."

Sharp says employers can now sign up with the Employer Support of the Guard to post job openings for returning troops. Jack Torrence joined his security business up. He says in the past 18 months half his new hires have been veterans

"I think that they've done something for the country that money can't really repay. It's a lot of sacrifices there so I feel like where I can assist I feel a very small part of making their life a little better in any way, then that's what I want to do."

Torrence says he likes hiring troops because they're dependable and well trained for security work .

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