AZ veterans finding road blocks to civilian work - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

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AZ veterans finding road blocks to civilian work

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Veteran Steve Burns, second from left, has been working odd jobs for little pay and little job security and only learned about a recent job fair from CBS 5 News. (Source: CBS 5 News) Veteran Steve Burns, second from left, has been working odd jobs for little pay and little job security and only learned about a recent job fair from CBS 5 News. (Source: CBS 5 News)
U.S. Navy veteran Jacky Alaniz, a single mother, was laid off by Lockheed Martin after three years as a systems analyst and finding the job market to be tough. (Source: CBS 5 News) U.S. Navy veteran Jacky Alaniz, a single mother, was laid off by Lockheed Martin after three years as a systems analyst and finding the job market to be tough. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Dave Meadows, an instructor with the Phoenix Business and Workforce Development Center,  said companies want to hire veterans because they are generally efficient, well trained and respect authority. (Source: CBS 5 News) Dave Meadows, an instructor with the Phoenix Business and Workforce Development Center, said companies want to hire veterans because they are generally efficient, well trained and respect authority. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

(This is the third in a series of stories by Nicole Crites on the efforts by the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs to end homelessness among veterans by 2015.)

For Arizona's veterans, many who've spent the better part of their career in our military are finding themselves at a serious disadvantage when it comes to transitioning to civilian work.

And it's a problem that's expected to only get worse as the country continues its drawdown in the Middle East.

Jacky Alaniz is a single mother trying to find a job before her one-month severance runs out.

She was laid off by Lockheed-Martin after almost three years as a system analyst.

"It's been nerve-wrecking, it's been chaos," Alaniz said.

She recently attended a "recruit military" job fair, hoping her four years of service in the Navy would give her an edge in the job market.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. and veteran Steve Burns was hoping for the same.

"Hire a vet. Hire a vet. Nobody's really hiring a vet," he said.

Burns has been an aircraft mechanic, has worked construction and in plumbing and even dug graves.

"With no work, no money, you can't stay no place," Burns said.

CBS 5 News came in contact with Burns during a survey of homeless veterans living on the streets.

After getting out of the military in 1984, Burns didn't act on his G.I. bill benefits fast enough.

So, without a degree he's left to hop around to whatever odd job people are willing to give him, with little pay and little job security.

"We went over there to do a job, then came back and then got shrugged off," Burns said. "And we're still getting shrugged off."

He only knew about the job fair for veterans because CBS 5 News told him.

"I was a radar operator in there and that doesn't transition well into the civilian world," said Alaniz, who has a bachelor' degree in computer forensics. Even though she has military security clearance, she still needs civilian certifications.

That's why she's taking a job skills class through Phoenix Business and Workforce Development Center.

Instructor Dave Meadows said companies want to hire veterans because they are generally efficient, well-trained and respect authority.

Still, about 8 percent of his enrollees are veterans like Alaniz, looking for work.

"We kinda help redo their resume using civilian terms that will sell themselves and really highlight the value they do have based on their experience in the military," Meadows said.

Alaniz said she knows she faces some challenges.

"In IT, everybody wants the expert," Alaniz said. "They want over five years' experience. And I understand I'm gonna have to start from the bottom, but I'm seeing this as an opportunity.

Alaniz has had two interviews since she was contacted by CBS 5 News: One employer told her she was overqualified, and the other canceled, saying they dropped the opening because of budget cuts.

Arizona is not one of 34 states that waive tests for veterans who already have military certification, such as for EMTs and commercial truck drivers.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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