U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey made a stop in Berks County on Monday to strike up a conversation of hope for struggling vets.
The main topic was jobs and how to get more veterans back to work.
"At one point, I was basically homeless and had no idea there was help out there to help me find a place to stay," said Kerwin Templeton, who served with the U.S. Air Force.
Templeton had a difficult time readjusting to civilian life after he served. He wasn't aware of the benefits he was entitled to and had no clue where to look for help.
"I had no idea there was a veterans affairs office here in Berks County at the time," said Templeton.
This is what some veterans are up against, and Toomey has taken notice. During his stop at the Berks County Department of Veterans Affairs in Reading, the senator discussed new legislation to help put more vets back to work.
"The unemployment rate among veterans is unacceptably too high," said Toomey, R-Pa. "These are people who served their country. These are people who learned a specific skill set."
The bill would create a one-year pilot program to help men and women find jobs online based on their military experience. The program would be conducted at the Labor Department's One-Stop Centers, and employers would be able to post vacancies.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans in 2011 was 8.3%.
"When people drop off the unemployment list they're subtracted from that percentage, but they're still not working," said Pete Marberger, the veterans employment representative for Pa. Careerlink Berks County.
Younger veterans are at an even greater disadvantage because many never held a full-time job before, and the competition they're going up against is stiff, said officials.
Toomey's bill is in the works, and veterans like Templeton said anything to help get his friends in front of an employer is worthwhile.
"I would have had more opportunities, and taken advantage of some of the things I haven't had a chance to until now," said Templeton.