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Program working to help veterans find a job after their service

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Finding a job can be difficult enough for many -- add a negative social stigma and some employers won't even look at you. Finding a job can be an uphill battle for veterans -- but a special program is working to help.

Michael Peterson is trained to kill as a U.S. Marine, but as one of the newest members of the Advanta-Clean crew, he has been retrained to clean ductwork.

Getting this job post active duty meant having to do something Peterson had never done before -- write a resume.

"It`s really hard to, for a lot of guys and gals, to look at, well I was an 0-3-11 infantryman. What does that translate to in civilian terminology? That`s part of what we do here," Mark Ard said.

Ard knows exactly what Peterson and other veterans face when trying to transition back into a civilian lifestyle.

A Marine veteran himself, Ard now heads up the Veterans Workforce Investment Program through the Center for Veterans Issues.

It is Ard's goal to help every veteran who walks through his door transition into a new career.

"When veterans exit the military, they lose a large sense of themselves. They lose a large part of what was their identity or what is their identity and that`s a very hard transition to make. A lot of times civilians don`t fully understand what that is like.  It`s a culture shock," Ard said.

Ard says a majority of military service members join right out of high school. That means they have little to no experience applying for a job, or it's been so long they're not up to date on best practices.

It's a place Ard found himself when his time on active duty was coming to an end.

"I had started applying to some jobs online myself. It wasn`t looking too promising.  The job market, no matter what you do is really not the best right now," Peterson said.

Ard's solution was to track down vet-friendly employers and make them partners with his workforce program.

Barry Hintz, a Gulf War vet is one of those guys. Not only did he hire Peterson, whenever he has a job opening, he says veterans are the first potential employees he seeks out.

'They present themselves well. They work very hard. They`re focused on attention to detail. They`re used to working as part of a team and I wanted to be able to hire guys that could take orders, but also could give orders if I have them running a project," Hintz said.

Not every vet is as lucky as Peterson. Even with the backing of a program, Ard says many employers carry a stigma about hiring veterans. Namely, the worry they may have a mental health problem that could lead to a breakdown.

"It is out there. It is, and it`s unfortunate cause that is simply not the case.  I mean if that were true, we`d see a lot more instances of that going on and we don`t.  We don`t," Ard said.

If you are a veteran or know one who may be interested in the Veterans Workforce Investment Program, more information is available HERE.

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