Helping Returning Veterans Get Good Jobs
Published : Thursday, 05 Jan 2012, 9:36 PM MST
PHOENIX - As we welcome tens of thousands of veterans home to Arizona, the economy and how it will effect them looms large.
Businesses are already preparing to help Arizona veterans find jobs.
The joyous reunions of returning soldiers can bring you to tears, but this is where we often end the story of returning veterans -- at the airport.
In reality, the returning veterans who need to find a job in this ugly economy are facing a different battle.
“When I came back had a really difficult time to find employment for myself,” says Colin Day.
Day returned from Iraq in 2007. The economy wasn't as bad then as it is now, and he struggled to find a job.
Part of the challenge he says is an uneasiness some have about war veterans.
“So when you look to hire a veteran, the first thing whether it’s subconscious or not, a lot of people it clicks in their mind, is this guy going to come in and start having flashbacks,” says Day.
“Likelihood that that happens is no more than with any other employee who wasn’t military.”
Colin Day got a job working in construction for about a year. He then launched and organization called AZ Veterans Leads. Its goal is to match up Arizona businesses with veterans who are looking for jobs.
Home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot also have a reputation for hiring veterans as does APS.
Big companies have stepped up and given veterans extra consideration.
It was a small valley business that made a big impact in ten veterans’ lives this past summer.
“I said look I got a job our company has a job and we’d like to hire some veterans,” says Herb Tiffany from Tiffany Construction.
Herb Tiffany's construction company builds infrastructure for large projects, and had just signed a deal with Palo Verde Nuclear power plant this summer.
Tiffany needed 10 security officers to keep the construction site and equipment safe for two months.
“They came to work on time they did everything we asked them to do and we’re looking for more work right now, to get more of them back to work,” says Tiffany.
Tiffany is fiercely patriotic. Not only did he insist on hiring veterans, but he paid them more than the job required. He could have paid $10 an hour or less, instead he paid $19 an hour.
“Because they’re veterans hey they protect our country when they joined they know they could die for their country, so we should owe them something.”
The family-owned company, which includes Herb Tiffany's daughter and son, says they were touched by the men they met.
“One of ‘em was sleeping in his car, the other had a house but didn’t have a car so they ended up getting together where now they had a house and a car together and two jobs.”
Another challenge for vets, says Day, is the military culture – they’re not exactly the first ones to ask for help.
“That probably hurts us its not in our best interest but we are a prideful people, we pride ourselves in being able to accomplish a mission with the tools we have laid out before us and that's not always the case when we get back in the civilian world where things are not as black and white as it is the military,” says Day.
As we welcome them home with open arms, we should also welcome them with open minds, and openings on the job front.
Herb Tiffany will vouch for their work ethic.
“They were probably the better workers that we’ve ever had because of the discipline that they show being in the service and going through all the boot camps and so forth and having to take orders," says Tiffany.
“When you hire a veteran you’re going to get someone who displays honor, integrity, personal commitment, show up on time, stay until job is done. They’re going to find unique ways to get it done," says Day.
Arizona public service, chase bank, and the federal government are all reaching out to help returning veterans find good jobs.