Veteran Employment Remains Focus Of Houston Commemoration

Hundreds of people gathered in front of City Hall for the ceremony.

It included a gun salute, music, and speeches by Mayor Annise Parker, Senator John Cornyn, and members of Congress.

The keynote speaker was the president of the University of St. Thomas, Robert Ivany. He retired from the army with the rank of major general.

He told veterans to be proud of their accomplishments.

Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison bows head
Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison bows his head during a moment of silence. Garrison served in the Army as a helicopter crew chief.

“I hope that for the rest of your lives you stand a little straighter, hold your head up a little higher, and have that warm glow inside you knowing that you served your country.”

There was also a job fair around the City Hall fountain, with booths staffed by representatives of  major companies like Kinder Morgan, MD Anderson and Walgreens.

William Lewis, a Marine Corps veteran, was there on behalf of Waukesha-Pearce Industries.

Lewis says many veterans have trouble marketing themselves once they return to civilian life:

“So that’s the big, big, big disconnect right now, I think, for most veterans. Because if they knew how to actually translate their military education to the civilian side, they’d walk into jobs quickly.”

Lewis thinks job fairs are helpful, but veterans also need to start preparing for the job search before they even get discharged. They need help translating resumes and experience into civilian language.

“In the way we write everything down or word things differently, between military life and civilian life, you don’t really understand when I give you my resume, ‘cause you read it and go ‘I’m not sure what that means.’ That’s the biggest disconnect.”

The unemployment rate for veterans has improved recently, and now matches the civilian rate.

However, a subset of veterans is still struggling to find jobs — those veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Their unemployment rate is still a few percentage points higher than the overall rate. 

Officials honoring veterans at Houston City
Officials honoring veterans at Houston City Hall included (L-R) Mayor Annise Parker; Robert Ivany, president of University of St. Thomas and a retired Army major general; Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, and his wife Sandy Cornyn; Rep. Pete Olsen, R-Sugar Land.

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