HUNTSVILLE, Ala (WHNT) — For people leaving the military after years of service, it can be tough to find a job in the civilian world.

The transition from military life to civilian life can bring a lot of challenges for new veterans.

According to the Pew Research Center, around one in four U.S. veterans had a job lined up after leaving the armed forces in 2019.

There are companies in North Alabama that are looking to hire veterans, and there are organizations helping get veterans connected to companies who want to hire them.

Dave Lakin is the Veteran Career & Transition Program Manager with Still Serving Veterans (SSV), a nonprofit based in Huntsville which is fully staffed with veterans.

“We’ve been there in your shoes, your boots really, and have been through the transition ourselves. We know it can be painful,” Lakin explained. “After a career in the military, I was 50 years old before I had to interview for the first time, write a resume for the first time, do the salary negotiation.”

2.8% of U.S. veterans were unemployed in July 2023 according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Ted Hacker is the President & CEO of the American Freedom Foundation. He said he believes that 2.8% is still too high.

“It’s a very difficult thing,” Hacker explained of the job search after service in the military. “You’ll hear many stories of people that have struggled with it.”

They said that part of what makes it hard is translating the training and skills veterans learned in the military into the civilian workforce.

“If they’re like 11 Bravo which is an infantryman, or a truck driver or a project manager, an IT manager, those jobs have to be translated to the civilian world,” Hacker explained.

“Everything that has to be done in the civilian world has to be done in the military as well at one base or another,” Lakin said. “So, the chances of finding a military member that has the skills you’re looking for is pretty good.”

The American Freedom Foundation and SSV team up to host career fairs in hopes of easing this process.

They held one at the Space & Missile Defense Symposium Wednesday, and more than 40 companies were there looking to hire vets.

With the recent growth in the Huntsville area, Hacker and Lakin said North Alabama is a great place for new vets to find work.

“We’ve had the FBI move here, we’ve had a few companies expand here. So, that creates more jobs,” Lakin said. “But with the overall population increase because of those government jobs moving here, there’s all those associated service jobs that increase in number as well.”

SSV helps vets with things like their resumes, interview skills and job searches, all for free as a way to thank them for their service.

“We have a good idea of the things you might not know, so we can definitely fast-track you into a job and out of the job search,” Lakin explained.

Wednesday, Boeing announced a $50,000 donation to SSV to help them expand their services and recruitment efforts, in hopes of helping more vets get jobs