Help veterans seeking work by being practical

It’s nearly Memorial Day. As we go about the task of paying respects to our military dead, how might we also honor those who are living? How about helping a vet or a vet’s spouse find work? After all, if a vet is unemployed, there is a strong chance it is linked to an interruption in his or her career path caused by military service.

If you have an unemployed or underemployed veteran in your life, here are a few tips to help you get started:

1. Offer assistance, but don't push. No job seeker enjoys constant reminders of their situation.

2. Emphasize practical over pity. It's good that you are thinking about this person, as long as your thoughts don't begin with "Poor so-and-so ... ." Instead, direct those thoughts to more practical purposes by asking yourself, "Who can I introduce so-and-so to?" and "I wonder whether so-and-so has a computer and printer for writing cover letters?"

3. Gather resources to share. If this veteran has been out of the service a long time, there's a good chance that he or she never received job search information from the military.

Following are a some Web sites that you might want to pass along:

» — sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.

» — information on education benefits for service members.

» — occupation finder linked to military skill sets.

» — military-to-civilian occupation translator.

» — downloadable job search workshop materials.

» — job search assistance for military spouses.

» — to find state-sponsored work force centers with free job search assistance programs and specially-trained Veterans' Employment Representatives.

4. Keep this person / family on your social calendar. Isolation is a powerful deterrent to success during career transition. Potlucks or work parties where everyone contributes will feel better than dinners out where you pick up the tab.

- Amy Lindgren owns Prototype Career Service, a career consulting firm in St. Paul, Minn. She can be reached at alindgren@prototypecaree or at 1071 W. Seventh St., St. Paul, MN 55102.