The current unemployment rate for Iraw and Afghanistan veterans is down 5-percentage points from last year at 7.6%. And with the national jobless rate higher than 8%, it appears that many employers are making an effort to hire veterans.
Teresa Fava-Schram works with many veterans on a daily basis, and she says these new rates are a result of a conscious effort between employers and the government. "Quite a few bills have been passed over the past year that have provided initiatives to employers, tax credits," she says, "it's beneficial to hire a veteran...Also it shows that we care about them."
She says she thinks the economy is starting to pick up, although she hasn't seen drastic changes in our area. But knowing tax credits are out there and that the unemployment rate has gone down, she says certainly boosts morale. "I think it helps people put them in a better frame of mind and just being positive and hopeful can go a long way."
Michael Sportello is a veteran who spends a lot of time at the veteran outreach center in Utica, and is currently looking for a job. State funding for a veteran assistance program he was involved in was cut in the winter, forcing him to look for other work.
"Tax credits I think are great for you know you have a lot of soldiers coming out of the military that don't have that education, that may have a year of college under their belt, and a lot of us combat guys, we can't sit in a classroom," says Sportello.
Sportello says his education and experience makes it tough to find a job, as employers can hire less experienced people for less money. He says the jobs he's looking for, will take longer to find, but he's hopeful. Sportello says employment for veterans is a challenge, as getting back into civilian life is difficult, but he's comforted in knowing that the rate is down. He also seems comforted knowing the government and employers are working to help them.