Johnson City

Tri-Cities' job loss affecting veterans

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Job loss has been a problem in the Tri-Cities since 2012  and new data shows it's continuing.

A report by the East Tennessee State University Bureau of Business and Economics Research explained, despite the job loss, the rate of decline is slowing down.

We talked to veterans on Thursday, who are some of the hardest hit by the decline in job growth. They told us the drop in jobs available has made it hard to transition from active duty to civilian life.

Veteran Joshua Shepard served in the Air Force for five years before military rollbacks cut his career short.

"When you're in, they tell you there's jobs out there for veterans but when you get out you realize there's not jobs out there for anyone," said Shepard.

Shepard told us he wanted to put his two associate degrees and military experience to good use in an career level position but instead found only low-wage jobs.

"It was difficult, it really was," he said. "It brought me way down, it made it really hard for me to transition back into civilian life."

Shepard told us that's why he decided to go back to school at ETSU. He isn't the only one making that decision either, according to Kevin Flanary, ETSU's Director of Veterans Affairs.

"Our enrollment is increasing," said Flanary. "We increased in the fall, in the spring, and summer. I think that's consecutive for probably the last 12, 13 semesters we've increased enrollment."

Flanary told us education is a good way to keep veterans moving upward after the let-down so many feel when they realize there aren't many jobs waiting for them in the civilian world. Some of the veterans are now even working to create jobs, he said.

"There's some vets that really want to take advantage and maybe get into their own business especially when they get their degree and they get some of that training," said Flanary.

Veteran Joshua Shepard said that's a good thing, when you take a look at the jobs available now.

"They're just not out there anymore and if they are, they're very few and far between," Shepard said.

Most Popular