CARUTHERSVILLE, MO (KAIT) - A Region 8 organization is pledging to combat the unemployment rates of veterans as U.S. forces are expected to leave Afghanistan in 2013.
Lady Luck Casino in Caruthersville is part of the Show-Me Heroes initiative launched by Missouri governor Jay Nixon in 2010. The casino is one of several employers in Missouri committed to making sure veterans will not have to rely on luck in finding employment once they return home.
Slot supervisor James Dunbar retired in 2005 from the military after 28 years of service. "I've been to Desert Storm. I've been deployed in Germany a few times. I was in Kosovo."
Dunbar has worked at Lady Luck since the casino opened in 1995. He is part of the 10 percent of the casino's workforce that has served in the military in some capacity.
Lady Luck General Manager Lyle Randolph said 20 to 30 retired and active servicemen are employed at the casino. "Our company is committed to ensuring that we can provide them with flexibility and time to apply for full-time positions."
"They accommodated whatever I needed here. I never had any problems getting off the time that I needed when I came back. Everything was the same, I picked up right where I left off," Dunbar said.
Dunbar said the same is true for many of the people he served with before his retirement. "It's not a big concern. Most people I've dealt with, they don't worry about getting their jobs back when they go back (home)."
According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20.2 million male and 1.8 million female civilians 18 and over were veterans in 2010. The veteran unemployment rate was 11.5 percent in 2010..
Randolph said the casino participates in the Show-Me Heroes initiative as a way to honor veterans in Region 8 and assist them with adjusting to life as a civilian.
"Sometimes because they are just recently returned from deployment, there are some additional challenges they might have that we can work with the veterans (representative) to ensure that we can get that person hired."
Randolph said veterans are not the only ones who benefit from the program. "You get someone that has leadership skills, that has excellent training. Often they come with technical training as well. They understand teamwork. They've worked in environments that are often challenging."
Some of the employees at Lady Luck are deployed right now. Randolph said their jobs will be waiting for them when they return home.
"They're folks that put themselves on the line for our country, and we feel as an employer in this state that we're obligated to do everything that we can to ensure that they have employment when they come back home.