John Kamin enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2005, and was deployed to Iraq at the onset of the surge in 2007. He received an honorable discharge after 15 months, but returned to Iraq when he was recalled in 2009. Today Kamin is studying at American University, where he is president of the school’s student veteran group.
In that role, he sees a lot of his fellow veterans struggling to adjust to civilian life, a problem he thinks will grow as we return to a peacetime force. “We are going to be seeing a lot of people get out of the military with a vast array of skill sets and a vast amount of knowledge that, at surface value, does not translate into civilian skills. There is no way to tangibly associate one with the other.”
He says veterans face unique difficulties in transitioning to the civilian job market. “It falls on them to pretty much exploit a skill that the military does not teach you, which is looking out for number one, learning how to self-promote and put yourself out there for events and experiences you hold dear and don’t feel the need to advertise.”
Kamin believes the new initiatives around job training and job search support President Obama announced this week can make a big difference, and he also hopes attention to the challenges transitioning veterans face will help bridge the gap in understanding and set up our returning veterans for success.
Read the story of Navy veteran Eric Smith, who has more than five years experience as a military medic, but works today as a hospital janitor.