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COLUMBUS, Ohio — In Afghanistan, Cpl. Clayton Rhoden earned about $2,500 a month jumping into helicopters to chase downimprovised explosive devices or check out suspected bomb factories.
Times Topics: Veterans | United States Defense and Military Forces
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Andrew Spear for The New York Times
Ethan Tomblin-Brooks, who was injured in Iraq, finds sporadic construction work and says he would rather rejoin the Army.
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Now he lives with his parents, sells his blood plasma for $80 a week and works what extra duty he can get for his Marine Corps Reserve unit.
Corporal Rhoden, who is 25, gawky and polite with a passion for soldiering, is one of the legions of veterans who served in combat yet have a harder time finding work than other people their age, a situation that officials say will grow worse as the United States completes its pullout of Iraq and as, by a White House estimate, a million new veterans join the work force over the next five years.
Veterans’ joblessness is concentrated among the young and those still serving in the National Guard or Reserve. The unemployment rate for veterans aged 20 to 24 has averaged 30 percent this year, more than double that of others the same age, though the rate for older veterans closely matches that of civilians. Reservists like Corporal Rhoden have a bleak outlook as well.
In July 2010, their unemployment rate was 21 percent, compared with 12 percent for other vets.
“There’s been an upsurge in young people going into the military and not staying for a full 20-year career,” said Jane Oates, the assistant secretary for employment and training at the Labor Department, which has worked to improve the three-day transition assistance program for outgoing soldiers and enlisted companies like Facebook to reach them. “I think transitions...