TAMPA, Florida -- President Obama is expected to announce during his State of the Union address that 34,000 troops will be coming home from Afghanistan next year.
When they do come home, some will decide to transition to civilian life and find jobs outside of the military. The U.S. Department of Defense now requires them to take a five-day course that will help them make that transition.
"We're teaching them how to research career paths, education paths, teaching them where to find jobs, how to target their resumes toward those jobs, how to interview, how to sell or negotiate," says Darrell Natoli, a community readiness specialist at the Airman and Family Readiness Center on MacDill Air Force Base.
On Tuesday, one of those courses engaged a group of servicemembers, including Brian Burt, who is retiring from the military after 28 years of service.
"It's getting out of the military speak, taking our military talents and converting those to civilian words," he says. He'd like to pursue a career in customer service or a field that will allow him to help people.
The average unemployment rate for veterans last year was about 10 percent, lower than 12 percent the year before. Dayle Greene, a career manager at the Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance, is optimistic that job prospects will only improve more by the time that the 34,000 troops would come home.
"February 2013 presents greater opportunities in this market for jobs available than this time last year or this time the year before. So there are great opportunities," he says.
TBWA offers free employment help for veterans. They get to learn about resume building and interview tips from fellow veterans, and they're holding a veterans job fair on March 21.
"They're helping with the struggles and obstacles that us veterans come home to, trying to return to civilian life," says Roy Argintar, who retired from the Navy after 20 years of service and is getting help from the WorkForce Alliance to find a job. "I fought for my country. Now I have to fight just to be vigilant. Times are tough, but they're going to get better."