Carroll County loves its veterans. And rightfully so. It takes a special and brave individual to enlist and serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. And when it comes to taking care of those who have served, at least in Maryland, we believe Carroll is second to none.
A few years ago, the Veterans Services Program of Carroll County was formed. The group works tirelessly, not just for veterans of all ages, for but children, widows, and parents of deceased and disabled veterans. It helps them secure benefits they've earned from the Department of Veterans Affairs, preparing and submitting compensation and pension claims; assisting with denied claims and filing appeals; and connecting veterans to the Veterans Health Administration; and other services and providers. Carroll has also run a veterans shuttle since 2012, transporting veterans to VA health facilities in Baltimore, Frederick, Glen Burnie and West Virginia for free.
Last year, the nonprofit Business Advocates for Veterans was formed to tackle another problem facing some veterans: unemployment.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.3 percent of veterans were unemployed as of October. More recent veterans — those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan — had a 4.7 percent unemployment rate in October, higher than the unemployment rates for veterans of any other era, according to the Center for American Progress.
Army National Guard Spc. Gregory Hobbs, a 2011 Winters Mill High School graduate who served in Afghanistan from 2014 until 2015 and was recognized by Business Advocates for Veterans as their Veteran of the Year, recalled to us how many of his friends who have recently been discharged from the military have struggled finding jobs, as well as how important the work of the nonprofit is in connecting those individuals with veteran-friendly employers.
Getting a job after serving in the military can be difficult, in part because even though some systems make veterans resumes available by search, employers don't necessarily know to look for them.
The private sector might also struggle with the language the military uses to describe certain skills, and not recognize those skills are exactly what they are looking at on a veteran's resume.
Business Advocates for Veterans tries to address both of those problems. The network of about 70 potential employers actively works to match veterans seeking a job with businesses that are hiring.
Todd Mitchell, director for the nonprofit, explained how it works: "C.J. Miller is one of our members, so if we get a call from a veteran that's a truck driver, we'll call C.J. Miller. If they have a job for them they will offer it; if not, they will refer them to someone else in the industry."
It also uses the expertise through its business partners, such as human resources support from its Employer of the Year, Knorr Brake Company, to help veterans returning to civilian life translate the skills of their service into a career in the private sector.
Today, on Veterans Day, we should make sure to show our appreciation for all veterans service to our country by saying "Thank you." But we would be remiss not to also salute all individuals and employers who work to make sure our veterans also have a successful post-military career.