Local veteran talks about transition from warzone to workplace - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Local veteran talks about transition from warzone to workplace


In an economy that often welcomes veterans back from war with little chance for employment opportunities, a story of hope and one man's journey from the warzone to the workplace.

Imagine returning home from war. As if the stresses that come from battle aren't enough, many veterans return without a way to provide for themselves or their families.

That could change soon.

"Dependable, reliable, has a security clearance more often than not. A member of a team, proven leadership skills," said Lt. Gen. J. Michael Bednarek.

US Army Lt. General Bednarek says men and women returning from service face daunting unemployment numbers. He's actively involved in finding opportunities and displaying the traits and skill sets soldiers bring back from war.

James Pearson is a unique case.

A 30 plus year veteran of the United States Air National Guard, this Chief Master Sergeant translated his skills as a member of the wire unit into a 20 year career with AT&T.

He acknowledges the difficulties of returning from war and finding work.

"The job market is tough right now and to get a break, any kind of break, is paramount," said Pearson.

In a tough economic climate he says soldiers will do just about anything.

"I don't know that the average person is looking for anything special, cut from the bolt of cloth that we are. We're just looking for an opportunity like the average person."

Opportunities are what Lt. General Bednarek is trying to create. He recently spoke to Illinois Business Leaders at the state's Chamber of Commerce meeting.

His touching points?

The potential our servicemen and women carry out of active duty and their value in the workplace.

"Getting the word out, talking to people, highlighting to potential employers that there's a heck of a lot of smart reasons why you should hire our veterans and our wounded warriors coming back from harm's way," said Bednarek.

Chief Master Sergeant James Pearson plans to retire from the Air National Guard in February of next year.

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