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The Search for a Paycheck: Young Vets and the Challenge of Finding Work Back At Home

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Alexander and Benjamin McCann, of Methuen, Massachusetts returned home after serving in Iraq, expecting the transition to civilian life to be somewhat smooth, especially in respect to finding jobs. Alex, having driven Humvees in Iraq and Benjamin, who served as a Combat Life Saver (similar to a first responder medic), assumed they had the skills to land a decent job in Methuen. "I figured, oh I'm a former marine, a veteran, [I'll] just write it on an application, all my credentials, everything I'm qualified to do... There's got to be something out there. So far, it's been nothing but dead ends," admitted Benjamin.

Ben went on to explain his first experience trying to get a job. "When I went to apply for the firefighter job and told them that I was combat lifesaver qualified, they kind of looked at me like, 'What's that?'" The plethora of military licenses and skills that they had acquired were not sufficient for landing a simple job in the northeast corner of Massachusetts.

There is no doubt that right now is a tough time to be a young person. The economy is frighteningly unstable, colleges are canceling scholarships in order to pay their own debt, and companies across the nation are undergoing hiring freezes and massive layoffs so that they can keep afloat. Young veterans are returning to this country having, in a sense, put their lives on pause, and so find themselves at even more of a disadvantage than the average young person. Ironically, the same men and women who have been sent by our country and government to fight a war, come back to find that even city governments won't hire them as they lack the basic US certifications for the jobs that they are, according to them, already qualified for.

The city of Methuen has recently passed a resolution that would give veterans preferential treatment for city jobs. The hope is that this resolution will spread to other towns and cities, and even states, so that the transition to civilian life can be easier for young veterans. Perhaps with the kind of positivity and determination exhibited by Benjamin and Alex McCann paired with a greater effort by city governments across the country, this step will be taken. For now, young veterans like Benjamin and Alex are patient, waiting for such steps to be taken. As Benjamin said, "It would be a perfect world if I could come right out of the military and say 'Hey I'm combat lifesaver qualified' and have 50 states just jump at it... that would be a perfect world, but it's not a perfect world."

Both Benjamin and Alex McCann will be attending the Young Veterans Concert this Thursday night.... You can watch my interview with them, as well as other young veterans pieces Friday night at 8pm on MTV.

To watch our coverage of Benjamin and Alex, copy and paste the following link to your browser:
http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1597520/20081020/story.jhtml