A Young Veteran’s Message: Help Us Find Jobs

Tyrone Newby’s struggle in finding work after four years in the military is not uncommon among Black veterans.

Posted: 11/08/2013 05:01 PM EST

After four years of serving in a number of installations in the United States Army, Tyrone Newby completed his military service in January. That’s when the strenuous work began.

The 23-year-old veteran has been looking for civilian employment, an experience he describes as daunting and challenging. He spent years working as a communications specialist, working with computers, radios and other materials.

For all the talk of the nation’s obligation to the men and women who have served their country, there is little evidence that employers take that commitment seriously, he said.

“Since I left the military, it’s been kind of hectic,” Newby said, in an interview with BET.com. “They provide us with a lot of classes on transitioning out of the military. But, even as a veteran, the job market is extremely bleak. It seems impossible at times.”

Newby, who is married and has three young children, is not along in his distress. While veterans have a lower unemployment rate than the general population, the scenario is bleaker for African-American veterans, especially younger servicemen, like Newby.

According to the Institute of Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, Black veterans have the most difficulty finding employment after their military service, with Latino veterans’ unemployment challenges nearly as challenging.

Although they have gone through demanding training in the military for a variety of jobs, veterans complain that they face a largely unreceptive job market once their duty is completed. And young Black veterans say that they have an even tougher time because of their shorter time in duty and lack of educational credential.

Newby, a native of Swainsboro, Georgia, enlisted after graduating from high school, in 2009. He served on a number of Army bases, but spent much of his time at Fort Leonard Wood in central Missouri. While in military service, he severely injured his knee and has been categorized as disabled.

He applauds the military for the role they play in helping to prepare veterans for the outside job market. But he said that potential employers should be more receptive to hiring young veterans.

“In my opinion, it’s not the fault of the military,” he said. “I think it’s the economy, and employers, who should do better.”

Newby said his Veterans’ Day message is targeted at employers.

“These employers say they care about veterans and that they have an obligation to veterans,” Newby said. “But my message is that they should not just give us words. They should really get behind us and actually be concerned about veterans. Don’t just talk. Do something.”

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(Photo: Courtesy of Tyrone Newby)

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