Iraq Combat Veteran Delivers Pizza During Two-Year Job Search 2012-04-05 04:00:02.1 GMT By David Lerman
April 5 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Army Private Brandon Click was driving a 68-ton Abrams tank in Iraq on March 25, 2008, when a roadside bomb melted his eyelashes and peppered the left side of his body with shrapnel.
Now back home in the Cincinnati suburbs, the 26-year-old Army veteran says he’s been delivering Papa John’s pizza at night in his 2002 Pontiac Sunfire for a little more than $31,000 a year to help support his infant son while he searches for a job. “It gets the bills paid, but barely,” said Click, who crossed the Ohio River to Kentucky last week for a job fair intended to help returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. As tens of thousands of young veterans come home from the wars, many are struggling to find work with civilian employers who don’t recognize their skills, haven’t shared their experiences and aren’t sure what to make of them. The result is that unemployment for veterans, particularly those ages 18 to 24, has been rising even as the national jobless rate declines. “Unemployment is our No. 1 issue,” said Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a New York-based advocacy group, in an interview. “Unemployment is not down, it’s up. And it’s a serious problem.” While the military offers all departing service members transition assistance to help them prepare for civilian jobs, the unemployment rate for veterans who’ve served since the Sept.11, 2001, terrorist attacks was 12.1 percent last year, up from 11.5 percent in 2010, according to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among non-veterans, 8.7 percent were jobless last year, down from 9.4 percent in 2010.