Imagine coming home from fighting for your country to find that the only way you can make ends meet is by delivering pizza.
That's the case for Brandon Click, an Iraq war veteran, who has been delivering pizza for Papa John's for the past two years, making about $31,000 per year to help take care of his baby son, Bloomberg reports.
Click was honorably discharged after a roadside bomb exploded near his tank in 2008, melting his eyelids and spraying him with shrapnel, according to Bloomberg. But Click, who just got a job at a call center, has barely been able to get by since he returned home.
"I need to give [my son] the future that every parent wants to give their son," Click said. "I feel like there are not things that I can really put on a resume. I learned first aid training; that I can put on the resume. Everything else that I learned in the military, you learn it for the military, and I really don't feel like they teach you for civilian life."
Unfortunately Click's plight is a rather common one. Veterans that risked their lives in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are 39 percent more likely to be unemployed than the average American.
The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans in 2011 was 12.1 percent: more than one-third higher than the 8.7 percent unemployment rate for the general population in 2011, according to the Labor Department. The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans rose 5 percent between 2010 and 2011, while the unemployment rate for the general population fell 7 percent.
In addition, veterans' different skill sets can often exacerbate their job search woes. The fact that veterans have built skills in war operations rather than in the private sector has made some employers hesitant about hiring them, with so many other unemployed people eager to work.
And even once they find work, Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are more likely to be stuck in low-paying jobs than veterans of more distant wars. Nearly 20 percent of all employed Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have service jobs, compared to 14.5 percent of all employed veterans, according to the Labor Department. Nearly 15 percent of them have management jobs, compared to 18.1 percent of all employed veterans.