DETROIT — Malcolm Byrd got out of the Marine Corps in 2003 and found work, first in a General Motors factory and then with a nonprofit group. But four months ago, he lost his job because of government budget cuts and has been job hunting since.
Telling potential employers that he was a Marine supply clerk who managed millions of dollars in Kevlar helmets and folding cots does not seem to have helped him find the management job he is seeking.
“I could run a warehouse, but they don’t put that on your DD-214,” said Mr. Byrd, 38, referring to the official document troops receive upon leaving service. “You do get skills in the military, but people don’t seem to understand that.”
As government and veterans groups work to bring down the high unemployment rate for recent veterans, they are finding a major problem in translating the work of war to peacetime jobs.
In a widely cited recent study of veteran hiring, researchers from the Center for a New American Security, a research organization based in Washington, found that the No. 1 obstacle to hiring veterans was matching military skills with civilian work.
“Civilian employers do not always realize that military-specific jobs — such as machine gunner, tank driver or helicopter crew chief — have some components that are directly comparable to civilian environments,” said the report, which was based on interviews with officials from 69 companies.
With that in mind, the Department of Veterans Affairs brought scores of job counselors to Detroit last week for its largest hiring fair of the year, where more than 8,000 veterans turned up looking for work. The department plans to hold at least nine more such fairs this year.