Tuesday, November 11, 2014


One of the biggest hurdles facing many veterans who served their country is finding a job, but a veteran-owned business organization in Chicago hopes to help.

One veteran spoke about the tough road many face as she enjoyed her first day on her new job. Ebonie Scott is an Air Force veteran who wrapped up her service in Saudi Arabia during Operation Enduring Freedom. She came home in 2003 and couldn't find a job.

"When you serve your country and come back here you have a plan or at least expect to be welcomed, and the welcoming is not as warm as you would think," Scott said.

Scott went back to school and made some money bartending, but on Monday, she has a new job.

"I just started today. (It's your first day?) Today is my first day. (Well, hallelujah.) Yes it is," Scott said.

Scott is working for a company called RideScout, a mobile app that helps you navigate ground transportation. They're housed in 1871, the Chicago incubator designed to assist new business start-ups. One of its success stories is the Bunker, a firm run by veterans helping other vets start their own companies.

There's been such a demand that the Bunker is celebrating an expansion into seven other cities with significant corporate support and now, the blessings of a senator and the state's governor-elect. In the next five years, close to a million vets will leave the armed services for a return to civilian life and work.

"They make great entrepreneurs. Vets tend to hire vets, so I believe if we can help vets start companies, we're gonna have a force multiplier on the vets coming home and that's what the Bunker is committed to providing," said Todd Connor, CEO, The Bunker.

"We are willing to do the work that most won't because we have done it before. These are ingrained in our ethics, and we can't shake that," Scott said.

Scott's job search has a happy conclusion, albeit one that was a long time in the making. The reality is that military training doesn't always translate into civilian jobs or creating new companies. Illinois has, by one estimate, over 30,000 veterans who are unemployed, and many more who are underemployed.

At the same time, there are many more agencies helping vets and companies willing to hire them than there were when Scott came home in 2003. 

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