HOUSTON - On Memorial Day 2012, veterans surveyed by the Lone Star Veterans Association said unemployment was their No. 1 concern.
Ian Hill, 32, was one of those veterans pounding the pavement in Houston looking for work. Hill served 10 years in the U.S. Army, including two tours in Iraq, and came home to find it hard for a veteran to find a job.
"I sent out my resume almost 100 times when I first got home. I only heard from one company," said Hill, "Just give us a chance. That is all we want."
Hill is getting a chance because of efforts by the Lone Star Veterans Association and Signa Engineering.
"I go out and locate companies who want to hire veteran talent. I find that veteran talent and we link them up together," said Brian Escobedo, a veteran career counselor.
Signa engineering sought out veterans for an oil rig training program and recently hired eight veterans, including Hill.
"They know how to take orders. They know how to give orders. They know how to lead and they know how to make decisions," said Dave Roseland, a senior vice president with Signa Engineering Corp.
Roseland said young veterans' real-life experiences make them more valuable than most 28-year-old college graduates.
"These are kids, to an extent, that have gone out and learned the real difficulties of life. They know what life is about and they haven't been sitting around playing Game Boy and things like that," said Roseland as he encouraged other Houston companies to look at veterans' resumes.
Hill will start a six-month training program with Signa to learn how to run oil rig sites and, once completed, he will work for ConocoPhillips.
He said he is grateful the companies recognized what veterans had to offer.
"Now I get to start brand new pretty much. I am looking forward to it and I thank the good Lord for it every day," said Hill.
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