East Texas veterans with PTSD struggling to find jobs

TYLER (KYTX) - Unemployment numbers for veterans are on the rise, shooting far past the national percentages.

The unemployment for male veterans is 9.2 percent, and for female veterans it's 15.5 percent.

The VA is saying those percentages are great part due to post traumatic stress disorder. Veterans right here in East Texas say their mental issues are making their post-service job interviews part of the nightmare.

About 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are known to have full blown PTSD. It's almost 30 percent for Vietnam vets - but those are just the cases mental health professionals know about.

"It's pretty tough you know," says Army veteran Willie McCloud.

Like many veterans, McCloud has never been diagnosed with PTSD, but has symptoms that mirror the disorder.

"It's sort of scary because the flashbacks hit you," he says.

McCloud is homeless, and says his mental struggles and health issues make it hard to keep jobs.

Gateway to Hope Executive Director, Pat Mallory, says she helps veterans at her resource center for the homeless every day. She sat with McCloud as he told us his story.

"He doesn't feel good," Mallory says. "He's got problems, some health issues and he can't do all of the things they may want him to do. So it's difficult, and it's very difficult if they're homeless."

Mallory hopes employers and the rest of the community will realize, our country's heroes need our help.

"I think it's really important as citizens recognize what they have given for us and that they have the issues they have because they went to serve and fight for our country," she says.

Her organization is helping McCloud get a job and a normal life.

"Right now I'm talking to one of the guys that work here [at Gateway to Hope] and he's going to get me over to Longview get me housing, and start my job search, which I'm willing to do," McCloud says.

He wants other struggling vets to know, there are people who can help.

"It's out there if you want it," he says.

Many of these veterans need medical help, but don't seek it because they have no money.

Mallory says many veterans are entitled to VA benefits but don't know it, and that's why she wants to spread the word about what's available. She says PTSD is a manageable disease and people can have successful careers with proper treatment.

There are also local counseling programs for veterans. The Andrews Center, the Good Samaritan Counselors, and the Lone Star Military Resource group are a few that can help.


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