Nampa Vet: 'It's getting closer to making ends meet'

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - Just over a year ago, members from the 116th returned from their year-long deployment to Iraq.

At that time we told you the story of three soldiers who came home without a job waiting who were all getting increasingly desperate for work.

Here's the update to what they're all doing now.

When we first met Jim Peterson last year, he called it a "survival game."

He and his wife were not only raising their own kids, they were helping with their grandkids, too.

After returning from Iraq, Peterson registered at a temp agency in Nampa and worked a few odd jobs but never got full-time work despite sending out dozens of applications.

He finally decided to hire himself.

He and his wife started C & J Serves, and Peterson now serves legal documents to businesses and individuals.

"It's not to a point yet where I can do nothing but this and still live," says Peterson, "but it's getting closer to making ends meet."

We met Eric Rogers a year ago at a job fair for the Department of Correction.

He didn't land a job with them, but a month later in the middle of a two-month span where he sent 50 resumes, he lucked out at the first Hiring our Heroes job fair with a part-time job at the Bureau of Reclamation. He's also taking classes at BSU in mechanical engineering.

Rogers says the skills he learned in the military have helped his approach in civilian life.

"I'm really responsible and show up when I say I'm going to show up," says Rogers. "When there's something pressing I do it. I don't put it on the back burner, and I'm at work most of the time. I don't call in sick most of the time because in the military you don't get sick days," Rogers said laughing.

Idaho Department of Labor Veterans Representative Randy Wilde says employment for veterans is moving in the right direction, compared with this time last year.

"I think it's looking better. I really do," says Wilde. "I would have hesitated to say that last year, but this year I think it's looking good."

Wilde says although Idaho doesn't specifically track the jobless rates of veterans, he says the Gem State is in line with national numbers.

Across the country from September 2011 to September 2012, the jobless rate of veterans 18 and over dropped from 8.1 percent to 6.7 percent.

We first met Sergeant Maryanne Beede two years ago at Camp Shelby, Mississippi just before the 116th shipped out.

When we followed up with her last year after she returned from Iraq, she'd recently learned her job at Gowen Field had been cut from a lack of funding.

At the time, she told us she was even willing to uproot and relocate to Africa or Australia to support her daughter Jada.

She didn't go that far.

According to her Facebook page, she landed in Wisconsin, where last month she received an honorable discharge from the Army National Guard.

Despite better job numbers overall for veterans, there's still a disparity between men and women.

Wilde says, across the country, the unemployment rate for men is less than 6 percent. But for women it's more than 13 percent.