MILFORD, Del. (WBOC) - Delaware showed drastic improvement in finding work for veterans in the past year. That's what new data released by the Delaware Department of Labor says. Unemployment is a real problem among the nation's recent veterans.
Monthly numbers out Friday show unemployment is higher among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan than among the general population. But the new Delaware specific numbers point positive trends for recent vets and all vets.
Vickie Bryant is an outreach coordinator, working with veterans, at People's Place in Milford. She spent six years in the army. She knows what it's like to be unemployed. But in 2012, after Bryant got a number of degrees, things turned around.
"I went over to Milford High School," she said. "The congressional delegation was holding a job fair. There is where I met Mike Rowe from People's Place. That's how I got a phone call for this position."
As part of a statewide effort to get vets employed, Delaware's congressional delegation has held four veterans specific job fairs since 2011. Gov. Jack Markell declared September 2013 "Hire a Veteran Month." And in 2012 Delaware created a tax credit incentive for businesses to hire vets.
"There's no reason a veteran should return from serving their country and not have a job waiting for them," said Del Failing, executive director of People's Place. "And I'm talking about a job they're qualified for, not a handout."
The new data shows Delaware had an unemployment rate among recent vets of 12.9 percent in 2012. That dropped to 6.4 percent in 2013. And the rate among all vets fell in that same time frame from 7.2 to 3.3 percent.
"Employers are seeing the value of hiring veterans because of all the things they tell veterans do," said Bill Potter, deputy director of Delaware's Workforce Investment Board. "Veterans are dependable, disciplined and understand the value of organization."
Bryant is an employed vet. But she has a son who is currently in the military. She's hopeful he'll have a job when he becomes a veteran.
"He's in the IT field in the Delaware Army National Guard. So, I think he will be OK," she said.
Officials at the Workforce Investment Board say these numbers are encouraging. But they don't mean Delaware should take its foot off the gas. They say the key is growing and maintaining that positive momentum.
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