The Best Places For Careers For Veterans

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November 7, 2015
By: Susan Adams
From: Forbes.com

Oklahoma City has the National Cowboy Museum, a thriving neighborhood of converted warehouses called Bricktown, a rock climbing wall inside a grain elevator and some of the juiciest steaks in the United States. It’s also the best place for veterans to move if they want to pursue a career that makes the most of their experience in the armed forces, according to a new list released today in anticipation of Veterans Day by USAA, a San Antonio financial services company that caters to members of the military, veterans and their families. USAA worked with a Chamber of Commerce Foundation program called Hiring Our Heroes, an initiative started in 2011 to help veterans and their spouses find jobs.

This year USAA is releasing three different lists. One has a focus on entrepreneurship, a second on education and a third on image of top cities careers. We’re highlighting the careers list since many vets struggle to find work after they leave the service. Eighty percent of veterans leave the military after just one term of duty lasting four to six years, and many join the service right out of high school. Among vets under 24, the unemployment rate is 14.2%, compared to 10.5% for non-veterans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (the numbers are not seasonally adjusted). Vets aged 25-34 have an unemployment rate of 6.1%, compared to 4.9% for non-vets.

The transition to a career in civilian life can be tough. “In the military, commanders tell you where to go and what to do,” says Eric Eversole, executive director of Hiring Our Heroes and a member of the navy reserves. “What can be challenging for service members and their families is now they have a choice.” To help veterans make the best choice for their careers, USAA assessed 401 cities to come up with its top 10. For the careers list, it looked for the presence of these 10 criteria:

1. Military skill jobs

2. Government jobs

3. Presence of defense contractors

4. Veteran-owned businesses per capita

5. Certification/license transfers

6. Veteran wage growth

7. Small businesses per capita

8. Small business pay per employee

9. Veteran unemployment

10. Recent job growth

11. Stability

12. Airport nearby

13. Health resources

The cities also had to meet three thresholds. The unemployment rate had to be no more than 1% above the national average, the crime rate had to be below the top 5% for all metro areas and the median cost of living had to be less than 20% of the national average.

These lists are especially timely now, given expected cuts in the armed sources. According to Eversole, in the next five years, the Army is expected to cut 40,000 troops on top of the “normal transition of a quarter of a million.” Though increasing numbers of companies have adopted veterans’ hiring programs and the falling unemployment rate has helped veterans, finding work after the service remains a challenge.

It took Cheyenne Matthews, 23, a former Marine Corps sergeant who worked as a field radio operator while she was in the service, 10 months to land a job that she likes in Oklahoma City. She moved and left the service in January after her husband, also a marine, was slated for a recruiting post there. The couple have a one-year-old child. First she worked as a contractor for Cox Cable doing outdoor labor in the hot summer sun. “I was trying to find something else the entire time,” she says. Then through a friend in Maryland, where she had been stationed, she learned about the veterans hiring program at cell phone provider Verizon. She applied for an Oklahoma City position and got a job in sales, greeting customers in a Verizon store and explaining product choices. “My discipline and my work ethic keep me going,” she says. Sometimes five people walk through the door and the challenge is finding a way to help them all at once. She and her family rent a three-bedroom house for $1,200 in Yukon, just north of the city, which she says she finds “cozy,” and the people friendly.

According to Eversole, Oklahoma city is home to a number of vet-friendly employers including Chesapeake Energy CHK +0.00%, 77 Energy, and Primo Technologies, a tech consulting and product service and development startup run by a veteran. Terra Construction, which specializes in contracting with military agencies is also run by a vet. Tinker Air Fort Base is located in Oklahoma City and Fort Sill, an Army post, is 85 miles from the city. Oklahoma City VA Medical Center is just 2.5 miles from the city center. The Will Rogers World Airport was remodeled in 2006.

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.com.

Image and article courtesy  of: Forbes.com.

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