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Groups help transition military members into civilian workforceEfforts focus on veterans and jobs

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Nick Baucom was a senior in high school when the Twin Towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001, an attack that prompted him to join the U.S. Marines the following year.

Baucom, who became a sergeant, served six years, including a five-month stint in Iraq in 2003.

Unlike other veterans, however, Baucom was able to translate his military experience into a business. He is CEO of Two Marines Moving, a company based near Washington, D.C.

“I’ve always been a lifelong entrepreneur,” he said. “I say I have two passions and they both revolve around service.”

Indeed, the mission of Two Marines Moving includes helping veterans — by hiring them. The policy is a “thank you” for their service and, from a business perspective, a nod to veterans’ work ethic.  

“It’s important to the integrity of our brand that we hire what we represent,” said Baucom, who founded his company in 2008. He also wrote a book, “On the Move: A Marine’s Guide to Entrepreneurial Success,” that guides veterans through the steps of starting their own business by translating combat terminology into business language.

On the surface, the thousands of veterans who have returned from Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere over the last 15 years appear to be doing better. Their unemployment rate is 3.4 percent, compared to an overall unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

South Central PA Works, the local workforce development board representing eight counties in South Central Pennsylvania, is among the groups helping veterans land jobs as civilians.

The organization works closely with businesses to help place veterans, including hosting job fairs. Eight veterans were hired directly during one recent fair.

“The skills of veterans are particularly unique coming out of the military environment and so one of the things that we’re trying to do is provide tailored and specific services to the unique needs of veterans,” said Jesse McCree, CEO of South Central PA Works.

But obstacles remain. Veterans, for example, may struggle to secure the benefits they’re entitled to, and they may face issues related to homelessness, discrimination and mental health challenges like post-traumatic stress disorder.

In response, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Gov. Mike Stack, established a veterans’ task force. Its members include Christian Johnson, dean of Widener University Commonwealth Law School in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County.

“It’s the right thing to do to reach out to help veterans,” said Johnson, who heads up a committee dealing with legal issues.

The task force will examine how government agencies and the community can make a greater impact on helping veterans, Johnson said.

“If you think these are easy problems, you don’t understand it,” he added.

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