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Helping Veterans Get Back to Work: Eric Smith

Eric Smith, a Navy veteran, explains why it's so important that America fights to support those who fought for us. Smith has five years of experience as a medic in the military, but works today as a hospital janitor because his extensive skill set doesn't directly translate into a civilian medical job.

Watch Navy Veteran Eric Smith, here

Eric Smith served two tours in Iraq with the United States Navy. As a Hospital Corpsman, a position similar to a paramedic outside the military, Smith performed duties normally done by a registered nurse or a physician’s assistant. He picked up skills and experience working in both hospital and combat settings that were far beyond anything he could have learned in the same amount of time in a civilian setting. Smith was certain he would be able to find an excellent job in the medical field once he left the military.

Today, he works as a hospital janitor.

“It’s characteristic of anybody that’s a military veteran that we’re dependable. Usually our word is our bond. We show up to work on time and we don’t leave until our work is done,” he said. “These are all things that you’d think would be a no-brainer for somebody like me looking for work, but it’s a little bit rough for me.”

Smith said it’s important to help our veterans get back to work once they return to civilian life because of people like him, who have five years of practical experience but no real prospects for a good job. “It got to the point where I was out signing up for drug trials just to make it,” he said. “That shouldn’t happen to any veteran—it shouldn’t happen to anybody.”

The Obama Administration is working to help qualified veterans like Eric Smith find jobs in the medical field that utilize their unique skills. In October, he challenged each of the 8,000 Community Health Centers around the country to hire at least one veteran. We can't wait to help our veterans find jobs.

Learn More: Despite the fact that our veterans have unique skills and experiences that make them excellent hires for any civilian business, their unemployment rate tops 12 percent. Read the stories of veterans like Eric who have struggled to transition their skills into new careers and find out why fighting for these heroes is a priority for the Obama Administration.