Heroes for hire
by Marcus E Howard
July 02, 2012 01:41 AM | 3755 views | 20 20 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
(MDJ Staff/Jon-Michael Sullivan)
(MDJ Staff/Jon-Michael Sullivan)
slideshow
Grantham, right, works with Travis Ellis, background, vice president of Mobilized Fuels Inc., to refuel the Domino's Pizza fleet at their distribution center in Kennesaw on Thursday. ‘I'd do anything for him,’ Grantham said of Ellis. ‘He's taken care of me and a couple of other troops.’ <br> Photo by Jon-Michael Sullivan
Grantham, right, works with Travis Ellis, background, vice president of Mobilized Fuels Inc., to refuel the Domino's Pizza fleet at their distribution center in Kennesaw on Thursday. ‘I'd do anything for him,’ Grantham said of Ellis. ‘He's taken care of me and a couple of other troops.’
Photo by Jon-Michael Sullivan
slideshow
MARIETTA – Former Marine Cpl. James Grantham has worked two months as a petroleum truck driver for Marietta-based Mobilized Fuels, but finding the job took nearly as much effort as avoiding the hazards of Iraq and Afghanistan, where he served.

Over the course of a year, Grantham said he applied to at least 1,000 jobs while working in an oil field in Utah and looking for a job in Georgia, where he wanted to join his girlfriend and newborn son. He said he was often told that he was not qualified.

“When it comes down to it, all my skills are certified in the military, but when you get out into the world they don’t mean anything,” said Grantham, who joined the Marine Corps fresh out of high school and worked as a mechanic during his four years of service.

“In two-and-a-half years, I led anywhere from four to 12 and at other times a platoon of 120 people — making sure that their professional development was taken care of, they’re getting their training and showing up for work on time. But, when you go back into the civilian world you’re literally starting at the bottom of the totem pole.”

Grantham’s experience is not that unusual for many recent veterans who return home from active duty and face difficulty finding employment.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for recent veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001 was 12.1 percent in 2011. The jobless rate for all veterans was 8.3 percent.

For young male veterans between ages 18 and 24, the unemployment rate was 29.1 percent in 2011.

Overall, the national unemployment rate in 2011 was 8.7 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Retired Navy Capt. Ted Daywalt, CEO and president of Marietta-based VetJobs, an online job board for veterans, said the unemployment rate for veterans is compounded by a reluctance to specifically hire members of the National Guard, which has responded to numerous crises abroad and at home, including wars, Hurricane Katrina and the current Waldo Canyon wildfire in Colorado.

“They have been called up so many times that there are people that just don’t want to hire them,” Daywalt said.

“We are working with a lot of employers who like hiring members of the National Guard and putting them into jobs where if they get called up, they can come back to it.”

Founded in 1993, Engineering Design Technologies is a veteran-owned engineering and construction firm in Marietta where veterans make up 20 percent of the workforce. The company’s portfolio includes Kennesaw State University’s 6,000-seat Convocation Center.

“They bring a commitment and dedication to the workplace that cannot be touched by regular people, but also cannot be understood by regular people,” Pam Younker, vice president of corporate services, said of veterans.

“We take a look at any qualified people, but we look at veterans first because we know there won’t be a question about dedication and loyalty to our company.”

The employment outlook for veterans has shown signs of improvement, thanks in part to a gradually improving economy and employers taking advantage of government incentives, such as the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors tax credits, which offer up to $2,400 and $4,800 in credit, respectively, to employers who hire them.

In May, while the unemployment rate for recent veterans was 12.7 percent, the rate for all veterans dropped to 7.8 percent, which is better than the national rate of 8.2 percent, according to U.S. Labor Department data.

Mobilized Fuels is owned by Kim Gresh, president of S.A. White Oil Company. Half of her combined workforce of 50 employees is composed of veterans. She credits her vice president, Travis Ellis, who is passionate about the military, for leading the effort to put veterans such as Grantham to work.

“Businesses here in metro Atlanta and the state need to do a better job providing employment opportunities for these veterans because they’re making the ultimate sacrifice and for them to come back to nothing is wrong,” said Ellis, who chairs the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Honorary Commanders Association.

“Here in Georgia, the unemployment rate is between 8 and 9 percent. The most recent statistic I read said in the National Guard alone the unemployment rate is 30 to 40 percent.”

Bill Downer, Georgia Department of Labor manager of coordination support services, said the department has two programs focused on marketing veterans to employers and offering employment assistance to veterans, including those grappling from disabilities, substance abuse problems and homelessness.

A 9-year Army veteran, Downer said veterans are trained to work hard and possess many skills and qualities employers are looking for, but have difficulty translating such within the civilian job market.

“Often times, military members are not taught to sell themselves to the private sector because they don’t realize that the vast amount of skills that they have are extremely marketable,” he said.

“A deployment expert is no different than a project manager…it’s about helping them translate those components that they did in the military over to the private sector.”

Downer advises veterans to register for possible medical, disability and retraining benefits with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at 800-827-1000. And also to receive priority of employment services at state Labor Department career centers by identifying themselves as veterans. The Cobb-Cherokee Career Center is at 465 Big Shanty Road in Kennesaw. For information, call (770) 528-6100.

— Rachel Cooper contributed to this report.
Comments
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likes VETS
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July 02, 2012
Okay everybody it use to be back in World War II, Korea, and even The Cuban Crises that if you served your nation you got your job back by Federal Government decree and given a chance ahead of someone else; not necessarily above entry level. I do not see any difference today than then EXCEPT THAT THESE VETS ALL VOLUNTEERED TO SERVE AND EVEN DIE FOR YO U AND ME SO WE COULD HAVE WHAT WE HAVE IN AMERICA!!!! DO NOT DISHONOR THE VETS.
Compromise
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July 02, 2012
While I too am so grateful to our service men and women for what they do for our country EVERY day, I wholeheartedly agree to @GR Cam... Military service and the skill sets created are difficult to translate to civilian life and careers. Our veterans deserve and need career counseling and training to be integrated as seamlessly as possible to the workforce, but being moved to the front of the line just based on their service is inappropriate. Training, education and being the right person for the job should earn an offer, not military service. Thank you for your sound position, GR Cam.
You are too funny
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July 02, 2012
@Compromise

In a word, Hogwash! Like Mr GR Cam, you do not have the slightest idea what you are talking about, and it is very clear you never served a day in military service. Read Mac Trucker and Sgt Half Track's responses to the Cam.
Tex G
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July 02, 2012
Well if the people that made posts like yours were sent the front with a rifle in their hands then maybe these guys could find some jobs.

Geez its just so sickening to hear the whining and the defamation of our troops. What a complete groups of little girls we have raised in this society.
Hebronsky
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July 02, 2012
Hello Compromise,

With your valuable skill sets, please drop by the kindly ole recruiter's office and see the person with three stripes and two rockers or the nautical looking person wearing anchors on their collar. Either one can fix you up with an all expense paid trip on the USS Neverdock or at Camp Permanentmud. They need programmers to entertain the troops.

All Hot Air
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July 02, 2012
Cobb County government for all its hot air about supporting our hero vets HAS NO VETERAN PREFERENCE in county job hiring. I think vet pref comes into play for police & fire only, last time I checked, and that is probably trumped by affirmative action quotas in hiring. In ALL other county jobs, there is no vet pref at all in hiring, just a spew of B.S. from county bureaucrats and politicians about "supporting" our returning combat vets. Hey MDJ, you want to do a real meaningful article? How about doing a research article on why Cobb county has no veterans preference in hiring for county jobs? When I tried to find out, I ran smack into stonewalling and pure B.S. from our county bureaucrats and elected officials. The ball is in your court MDJ. There is no question as to the quality and superior personnel that military veterans would bring to the county work force. So why are we not giving them preference for hiring into county jobs?
GR Cam
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July 02, 2012
If I were to join the military today, I wouldn't start off as a "Captain" (which is what my civilian pay is equivilant to in military scale); I would start off doing grunt work at the bottom of the ladder. Why do vets think they are owed a right to come in at a higher level than the bottom just because they are vets? Don't get me wrong, I'm VERY thankful for their service but just because they are making a career change does not entitle them to move to the front of the line. I am a very skilled programmer, but if I were to change careers and become a registerd nurse, I would have to go through the training and then start off at the bottom--my skills programming in the finance industry would not count. They chose to go into the military (there is not a draft) and now they must reinvent themselves which will probably mean starting at zero again.
Mac Trucker
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July 02, 2012
@GR Cam

I am familiar with your type during the Viet Nam War era. You should be thankful someone else volunteers to go, otherwise we would have a draft, and your type during Viet Nam always managed to get a deferment. Military pay cannot be compared to civilian pay, far too many variables. Plus, military personnel are never off duty, 365 days a year, something found no where in the civilian work force. You missed the point of the entire article. For most vets, it is not a career change, because their skills and experience place them in an advanced position on the career ladder. The discipline vets bring to a civilian job cannot be acquired in any civilian job. You admit you never served in the military, which is clear evidence you are unqualified to compare civilian and military jobs.
Sgt Half Track
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July 02, 2012
Hey GR Cam, you would not be a Captain, if you were a programmer. You'd more likely be a warrant or enlisted. An army captain LEADS about 100-120 soldiers, and a Navy captain is often a commanding officer. Don't toss around military terms, unless you have a military background. There are dozens of different types of military pay and allowances, virtually impossible to compare to a civilian situation. Be thankful people still volunteer for military service, otherwise you would have to get a deferment, so you would not be drafted.
Tex G
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July 02, 2012
You would be a private cleaning latrines is what you would be.
GR Cam
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July 02, 2012
I am married to an Army officer (not enlisted, I might add) who has 20 years of service, so don't tell me I don't know what I am talking about. I, probably more than YOU, know what I am talking about! As I said, I am VERY thankful for each person who has served in the military, but that still doesn't mean I think they should be moved to the front of the line when they get out of service just because they were in service. (BTW: I said my PAY would be "equivilant"--I didn't say a programmer in the Army would BE a Captain!)
Lois Luray
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July 02, 2012
Oh my GR cam, you should have identified your distinguished status right off, and if true, you probably know more than your husband too. How long have you been active with the officers wives club?
Heroes all
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July 02, 2012
Cannot imagine why vets would not be given preference in hiring. They are well-trained, are versatile and are willing to do what it takes. As far as I am concerned, our vets are the "Pick of the Crop" and not only deserve consideration, but will offer, I am sure, far more than some of our entitlement obsessed young people we see today. Many of them are well suited to go into management positions. These men and women will repay their employers a thousand-fold.
Tex G
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July 02, 2012
This is the kind of thinking that will rescue our country.

Vets one and all must and will be treated with the respect they deserve despite traitors, fifth columnists, communists, and overall weakling over feed, over paid, and over spent Americans.

ideaman
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July 02, 2012
Ok - returning vets from service?

How about them coming in and performing some of the tasks that illegal immigrants do?

(1) Landscaping

(2) Moving companies

(3) Restaurants

(4) Road crew workers

Only for a short time while they look for other work and find it...those are temporary jobs

These are jobs are menial and temporary in nature, but are physically active, keeps you out in public, and that's where you need to be - out with people who may know other people looking for dedicated employees. The more times you are out doing work, the more chances you'll meet someone who may change your life for the better. Don’t just sit there and expect anything to happen for you!

Cruff
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July 02, 2012
Good idea, ideaman.
Tex G
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July 02, 2012
You must be joking? Just the way you stated this is offensive.

Let our warriors return and do the jobs of illegal aliens? Are you high?

People who put their rear ends on the line while civilians sit at home won't ever come back to the prospect of "doing the jobs of illegals......" while I and a million others are living.

These guys/ladies should be coming home to free houses, free cars, preferential job treatment and free medical and mental health care for them and their families for life. Trust me, they have bought and paid for these rights and a lot more.

When I read stuff like your post I can understand why our country is in such a state of decline.
Tex G
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July 02, 2012
These businesses had better be rolling out the red carpet. Heck I don't have a job but will acknowledge that a veteran that fought for this country has a right to one before me.

Without these guys there are no jobs, no country, and no freedom.
Copperblue
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July 02, 2012
No marketable skills tex g.?

SOOOooo, I am a veteran and a Public Safety employee. How do you rectify your previous positions on Government workers who ARE vets?
Tex G
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July 02, 2012
I didnt bother to make the distinction to you guys. I dont have to justify my posts and also to me its as much common sense as breathing to know that the military are not the ordinary government employees.

What I refer to is the shiftless, shuffling, moves like its killing them lazy federal employees we have all dealt with.

Get a life please.
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