UCM Helping Veterans Get Foothold in Civilian Job Market

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WARRENSBURG, Mo. - Many veterans just out of the military are having a difficult time finding civilian employment, but a new program at the University of Central Missouri aims to do something about that.

On Friday, the Military and Veterans Success Center officially opened its doors on the UCM campus, and military veterans are already excited about what the program has to offer.

"I graduate next month and I retire next year so I'm hoping to transition into a career outside the military," said USAF Master Sgt. Monica Hamm, who says that it's tough to leave the relative job security of a military career. "Yeah the safety blanket is gone and you don't know what you're going to do."

Hamm says that with her degree from UCM and her 19 years in the Air Force, she'll find work.

U.S. Army Sgt. Alejandro Arias says that he's glad he's getting his degree too. He says that several people from his platoon are struggling.

"There are struggles to find jobs. It's very hard. I'm thankful I decided to go to school and find this," said Arias.

Both Hamm and Arias say that there are programs already out there that help veterans transition into civilian careers, but it could be hard to find those benefits.

"But here they can come in and get a map for what they need to do for their education," said Hamm.

"I didn't know about so many things, and she walked me through everything and it's good. I'm actually making money and going to school," said Arias.

At a time when the unemployment rate for veterans is 16 percent - nearly double that of civilians - UCM officials say that one thing that can counteract that is an education.

"If you have a veteran without any skills or a degree, chances are they could be unemployed. This is what we hope to use to bring people in the institution and prepare them for tomorrow," said Rick Sludder, UCM vice-provost of enrollment management.

In addition to the Military and Veterans Success Center, UCM also announced in June a new military tuition package waving many student fees for members of the military.

"Because once you get an education, you'll be successful in whatever job you want to get," said Arias.

For more information about the UCM Military and Veterans Success Center, click here.

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