New program guarantees veterans a job - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

New program guarantees veterans a job

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

One in three veterans is unemployed in America, worse than the year before, when one in five was unemployed, according to the Department of Labor.

Startling numbers, but a brand new program at Georgia Tech-Savannah campus, called V.E.T Squared, is working to improve those numbers by guaranteeing veterans a job.  

"The stress, it's tremendous," said veteran Daniel Larubio.

The stress Larubio is talking about is looking for a job.

Georgia's unemployment rate for Post 9/11 veterans sits at 13.9 percent, compared to the overall unemployment rate in the state, which is 8.7 percent, according to Georgia's Veterans Affairs.

Veterans in South Carolina are faring a little better. Their most recent numbers show an unemployment rate of 6.9 percent for veterans, compared to 8.1 overall for the state.

"When you don't have a job, you're constantly being stressed about whether or not you're going to be able to provide for your family," said Larubio.

According to him, that's how many soldiers "end up chasing deployments."

Larubio says he was one of those soldiers.

He's been to Afghanistan three times since joining the army, to help support his wife and newborn son. Now he's in the National Guard, and he's been looking for a job since July, when he returned from his most recent stint overseas.

"When you're come back, you're starting from square one," said Larubio. "You really have no leads, so you have to start from nothing. The hard part for me, specifically, was being able to match my experiences with what's out there now. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of background in the civilian sector."

He started to give up, until he found out about Georgia Tech's new Veterans Education Training and Transition Program, also called V.E.T Squared. It's a four week training course that guarantees veterans a job at the end.

"We didn't want to be another program that would just allow you to go through, you get a certificate or credential, but you were no closer to getting employment than when you started," said James Wilburn, the Academic Program Director for Georgia Tech. "When you come into this course and register, they get three weeks paid placement with a company."

The program launched in August, and a couple students, like Wayne Huggins, have already been placed in jobs. After three years of looking, Huggins is now a professor at Georgia Tech.

"It was very frustrating," Huggins said, describing his job searching experience. "I got out of the military at 38, and then I was learning things that I should have known at 20. That's where I was, just starting over again."

Wilburn, a veteran himself, says veterans transitioning into the civilian workforce face three challenges, or buckets that he calls him.

"One of those buckets is socialization, how you integrate as part of a new team in a new environment or new culture. The second bucket is interpersonal communication. We communicate very differently in the military than how you typically would communicate in the civil union sector," said Wilburon. "The third one tends to be presentation. So how do you present yourself to other individuals in the process of the socialization and communication."

Larubio and Huggins carried those buckets around for months, even years, as they applied for jobs. It weighed on their confidence, until now, thanks V.E.T Squared.  

Wilburn has already started his job at GA Tech, and Larubio starts his new job on Veterans day. He says that's the best part.

"The idea of starting a new job while starting with a day that's celebrating soldiers," Larubio said, "I think that's great."

V.E.T Squared will be starting their next class on January 6. If you are a veteran, and you're interested in the program, you can find more information here: http://gtpe.gatech.edu/VETT-info.

Copyright 2013 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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