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Veterans Face Higher Jobless Rate Back Home

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Ex-Marine Kyle Lopez has had a tough time finding a job since returning home. (CBS)

Ex-Marine Kyle Lopez has had a tough time finding a job since returning home. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — You’ve heard people say, “Support the troops.” But what happens when the troops come home?

Many military men and women returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have education and job needs.

But many states, including Illinois, have budget issues that might limit help.

CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman spoke with a Marine about his reality.

Kyle Lopez was a Marine in Iraq. He faced danger and endured loss.

“It’s a lot more structured – everyone tells you what to do,” Lopez says of military service. “Out here, no one tells you what to do. It’s just so hard.”

Like so many other returning service men and women, Lopez has come home to a tough economy.

So now he’s dealing with the worry of how he’s going to support himself. He’s tried but can’t get a job.

He says the idea that America takes care of its veterans is “pretty much not true.”

The latest crop of Gulf War veterans has an 11.1 percent unemployment rate, which is higher than the national population rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Bill Wolf, a former state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, says there are programs in place that make sure returning military are mentally and physically OK when they come home. But that doesn’t solve the employment problem, Wolf says.

“It’s not all sugarcoated,” Lopez says.

He says he’s thankful for his time in the service, but he just hopes lawmakers hear his story.

Gov. Quinn recently signed legislation making it easier for vets to gain access to some employment.

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