The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

December 14, 2012

Unemployment rate improves — but not for veterans

Post-9/11 vets at a rate of 10 percent

OTTUMWA — Figures released by the U.S. Labor Department present a good news/bad news situation.

The national unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from October.

But a report from Army Times points out that for October and November, post-9/11 veterans are locked into an unemployment rate of 10 percent.

Even when averaged for veterans of all generations, the rate worsened in November, from 6.3 percent in October to 6.6 percent in November. The state of Iowa does not track unemployment figures for veterans, nor do individual county offices. But the issue comes up.

“I have had a few in who are seeking employment, who for whatever reason were unemployed and were looking to re-enter the workforce,” said Diane Durian, director of Monroe County Veterans Affairs.

And a veteran she recommended attend a job fair specifically for veterans hasn’t heard back from anyone he met there, she said.

Like most county veteran offices, Durian doesn’t specialize in any one service for veterans, like employment.

“We try to point them in the right direction,” she said.

Since Monroe County no longer has a Workforce Development satellite office, that often means sending them to Ottumwa.

“We have the services to help everyone find employment, not just veterans,” said Linda Rouse, operations director at the Ottumwa office of IowaWorks.

But they also have a dedicated veterans officer.

U.S. Marine Corps veteran J.R. Beamer is the representative in Ottumwa. He said in a recent Courier interview there are several reasons employers may be hesitant to hire combatants of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If they understood the truth behind the challenges those veterans face, they might be more willing to hire them.

For example, he said, civilians with post-traumatic stress disorder may or may not be diagnosed.

Combat veterans, however, are all screened for the disorder. Not only that, he said, but the Department of Defense and the VA are the nation’s leaders in treating PTSD.

As for the chance of being sent overseas again, yes, they may need to serve. But with the amount of notice given to workers and their managers, planning can take place, Beamer said.

Principal Financial Group, Fareway and Hy-Vee all are strong supporters of the guard and reserves, he said, and they are successful.

“Or they may have a gap in their employment history,” Rouse said.

That’s because it is not unusual for a service member to leave the battlefield after a year or more in harm’s way, come home and decide to decompress for a few weeks as they transition into civilian and family life.

Rouse, herself a retired Marine, said one of the things that jumps out at her is that service members may not realize just how many valuable skills they are coming home with.

“They may not know how to market their skills, to put them into terms an employer can understand and show what they can do for the company.”

That’s something veterans can learn, she believes.

Beamer had said the military teaches members to push themselves even when uncomfortable, as well as to learn how to learn quickly, under pressure and in changing situations.  

Rouse listed leadership skills, intensive safety training and conditioning, experience continuing to work a job even under intense pressure and working as a team. Military members become comfortable working with state-of-the-art, high-tech equipment, too, she said.

Rouse said a program practiced in southeast Iowa and statewide should provide some education about those issues.

“‘Hire our Heroes’ is a program to send the message to employers about the barriers veterans face but also all the great assets they bring to the table.”

According to the Army Times report, the Defense Department is working on an initiative to improve transition assistance training for separating service members, a move “aimed at helping them find better jobs and using their military-learned skills.”

Text Only
Local News
  • Seasonal forecast Cool summer leading to cool fall? OTTUMWA — By late July, the average daytime high temperature starts to drop. What is normally the hottest part of the year is over. Averages are still in the mid-80s, and it certainly wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see days in even the upper 90s.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Grant helps Hills keep students on track OTTUMWA — Thanks to a grant designed to improve graduation rates, Indian Hills Community College now has even more tools in its campuswide effort to help students with needs and give them the resources they need to stay in class. Indian Hills is one

    July 28, 2014

  • 0728 OTT ribs in eldon BBQ dinner with a hundred friends

    ELDON --- This year's Eldon Rib Cook-off was won by three BBQ chefs --- and about 150 hungry visitors. "I was down here last year, too," said Dwayne Yates from Floris, who was biting into his third smoked rib. "I never had a bad one yet." That's what

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mediacom: Rural cable consumers and companies mistreated OTTUMWA --- You may want to add just a racing channel, a court channel or a nature channel to your cable line up. Unfortunately, you'll probably have to buy a "bundle," which, ironically, is what it will cost you here in Wapello County. That's accord

    July 26, 2014

  • Alternate juror could not have convicted Techel based on evidence DAVENPORT — An alternate juror who was dismissed before Seth Techel, 23, of Agency was convicted of killing his wife and the non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy says the verdict could have been different if she had been in deliberations.D

    July 25, 2014

  • Overcome testing fear, get a good job OTTUMWA — It's not who you know, it's what you know. That's what City leaders say about getting a good paying job in Ottumwa. "It seems like in the last year we've had a real reduction in the number of individuals who've applied," said Joni Keith, hu

    July 25, 2014

  • Water Pollution Control Facility gets OK to upgrade OTTUMWA — An emergency Ottumwa City Council meeting resulted in spending $140,583 for the Water Pollution Control Facility. Friday afternoon, council members listened intently as Ottumwa Water Pollution Control Facility Superintendent Kam Reeves told

    July 25, 2014

  • Quincy Ave. project starts Aug. 4 OTTUMWA — Updates on the Quincy Avenue project was given to residents and businesses residing between Albia Road and Hwy. 34 on Thursday night at Ottumwa City Hall. About a dozen people attended the meeting where City Engineer Dan Sturm gave an updat

    July 25, 2014

  • Silence continues on fatal shooting OTTUMWA — Law enforcement is exercising its right to remain silent about a shooting death that occurred south of town this week. The Wapello County Sheriff's Office, which had responded to the shooting, said most information on the case would now com

    July 25, 2014

  • 0726 OTT cedar creek Gone in a flash

    BLOOMFIELD — Bob Parker got about as close to lightning as you can Friday morning, and came out of it without injury. A line of thunderstorms started moving through southeast Iowa in the early morning hours. Parker was heading to work at about 7 a.m.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

Photo reprints