Unemployed military veterans struggling to find work

Unemployed military veterans struggling to find work »Play Video
SEATTLE -- Getting work in today's job market is never easy, and now some unemployed military veterans are worried that all the talk about combat stress and the recent Afghan killings could scare off prospective employees and make getting a job even tougher.

Gulf War veteran William C. Long is struggling to find work as an electrician, and he thinks some employers have the misconception that vets have trouble handling pressure on the job.

"There's so much talk about post traumatic stress," Long said. "It may put thoughts in people's minds."

Long doesn't have PTSD, but he thinks some bosses might hesitate when they see military service on his resume.

"Are they inviting problems into the workplace with somebody who might not be able to handle a situation?" he said.

Several veterans enrolled at Renton's Puget Sound Electrical Apprenticeship Training Trust say they feel a stigma about their military service.

"I know when I tell a lot of people I've been in Iraq they think you're kind of damaged goods, and no one wants to here that," said Vincent Valadez.

The Department of Labor Statistics says veterans are facing a slightly higher unemployment rate than their civilian counterparts, and the numbers are worse for young war vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dr. Kenneth Muscatel is a Seattle-based psychologist who has evaluated many soldiers for PTSD. He's studied issues of stress and how they relate to crime and thinks returning vets shouldn't worry about an isolated incident in Afghanistan reflecting poorly on them.

"There's no rational basis to think that an individual with PTSD is more likely to go postal, to use a term that was applied to a different situation," Muscatel said.

Veterans also want employers to know that many soldiers received specialized training in various jobs and never experienced combat.