03/19/2012 07:51 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Veteran Skills Lost in Translation When Searching for Jobs

A retired Army combat medic was struggling to find a job. Having saved lives during a war, his training was not recognized in the private sector. A combat medic may need further education to become a registered nurse. After falling behind on bills, he lost his house and (following a possible job lead) moved his family to Maryland. Unfortunately, the job lead required a long wait... and eventually, the cost of starting over in a new location far outweighed their budget, especially without a source of income.

When retired Sgt. Shawn Sears contacted USA Cares, we provided assistance with their bills and helped with groceries. We were able to take that stress out of the equation, allowing Mr. Sears to concentrate on finding a new position.

Trying to pinpoint what makes the transition from active duty to the civilian workforce difficult is moot simply because it's not a universal problem. Some veterans transition smoothly into civilian life, some have a harder time (or longer wait) succeeding. For Mr. Sears, the U.S. Army gave him the training and skill set to be a combat medic. After serving his country, his training didn't factor into his job search.

I see this time and again. The acquired skills, training and knowledge of active duty military personnel, more often than not, get lost in translation when applied to the commercial or private sector.

Rep. Jeff Denham, an Air-Force veteran, recently introduced a bill meant to streamline bureaucratic processes for veterans with relevant training to get jobs when they return home. This bill, the Veterans Skills to Jobs Act, would view relevant military training as the equivalent of federal licensing and certification requirements.

Bills like this would have helped ease the process for Mr. Sears and many other veterans. It's not an answer to every jobless veteran's problems, but it sure would help. Until then, we'll continue helping our friends and family as they come home.

To find out what happened with Mr. Sears, USA Cares is honored to let him tell you in his own words:

To find out more about USA Cares and the assistance programs we provide for our service members, veterans and their families, please go to: or send an inquiry to