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WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 02, 2012, 07:03 PM

More veterans going back to college to improve job prospects

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - In April, 2,700 Minnesota National Guardsmen will come home from Kuwait. Roughly 19% of them are coming home to no job. Today, one veteran shares the obstacles he faced when trying to find work and what he's doing about it.

In April, 2,700 Minnesota National Guardsmen will come home from Kuwait. Roughly 19% of them are coming home to no job. Today, one veteran shares the obstacles he faced when trying to find work and what he's doing about it.

Steve Bauman spent twenty years in the army, specializing as a ranger.

Steve Bauman – Army Veteran: "We jumped out of planes, Blackhawks, whatever we had to do to get in and we'd clear the airfields."

Twelve years ago, he retired from the military and entered the workforce.

Steve Bauman: "It's tough to find work out there it really is. They don't want to hire a 45 year-old white male without a college degree. I mean, it's just not going to happen."

After a string of blue collar jobs and three years of unemployment, Bauman finally decided to get that degree. He's now a sophomore at MSUM, studying social work and psychology.

Steve Bauman: "It's better than sitting at home and doing nothing or sending resumes out, trying to find a 7, 8 dollar an hour job."

The average unemployment rate for Minnesota Gulf War Era II veterans in 2011 was 11.7%. The rate for civilians was 6.4%.

Dave Bellefeuille works for the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dave Bellefeuille – Higher Education Vets Program Director at MSUM: "Two things you can almost say is going against them. Maybe their non-traditional age and then they have a specialty that's a military specific specialty which may not be a direct correlation to the civilian sector."

Veterans are constantly coming in and out of this office. In fact, enrollment of veterans in universities across the state increased from just fewer than 5,000 in 2006 to a little over 12,000 in 2011.

Dave Bellefeuille: "We're looking for a more skilled or professional job, many of the students here are getting into a social work program or mass communications program."

Unless a veteran is dishonorably discharged, the government pays for part or all of his or her education; an education that's giving Bauman a second chance.

Steve Bauman: "I hope to be better financially off, but I also hope to give back as well."

The unemployment rate in North Dakota was 3.2% in December. It was 2.2% for veterans.

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