Now veteran fights to find work in a tough economy

Gregory Kamm of Las Vegas did close combat on the streets of Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004. He didn’t think he’d have to fight just as hard to find a job in Las Vegas in 2008, after completing earlier this year his third deployment.

Kamm, 25, is one of many veterans back from Iraq or Afghanistan struggling to reintegrate into the recession-wracked civilian workplace.

Kamm, wife Corinne, and 1-year-old son Skyler have two special applications pending, beyond the numerous job apps. One is for a food allotment through the federal Women Infants Children program, the other for food stamps.

As of mid-December, the Kamms were dangerously behind on the rent for their tiny North Las Vegas apartment. They risked eviction until a local church provided financial aid.

The Kamms are behind on their car payment, too. So the dealership that granted the loan has electronically "locked" the vehicle until the Kamms pay up. Gregory Kamm takes the bus to file job applications and attend job interviews. Corinne is also looking for work.

"The economy is bad in Las Vegas. We’re all tourist-related," Gregory Kamm acknowledges.

Kamm has almost eight years of honorable service in military security, as an active-duty Marine and then as Army Reservist. He returned in April from Iraq, this time with the Army Reserves 314th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.

Before deploying with the reserves, he had notified his civilian employer, a casino that caters to locals, of his departure. Federal law requires employers to take back workers after they serve in the military, if properly notified.

Kamm did get rehired into the casino’s security department — which fulfilled the letter of the federal law. But other job conditions had drastically changed.

According to Kamm, during the four months he worked at the casino this time around, the new security chief was ineffectual and abusive. The veteran also felt the casino was jeopardizing public safety by running short security crews during graveyard shifts in order to save money.

How safe is it, Kamm asks, for two guards to attempt "to handle 512 intoxicated adults that don’t speak English?" He is referring to a popular weekly event marketed to Hispanics, held in a space rated to hold 512 occupants.

Kamm didn’t only think about his concerns. To express them in person, he says he went to the property’s human resources office twice, and once to the casino’s offsite corporate headquarters.

Kamm quit abruptly Oct. 27, after a supervisor told the soldier that he, with three years cumulative on the payroll, was outranked by a newer hire with less experience. Kamm figured that if he didn’t find work right away, unemployment pay would kick in. He believed he had quit for "just cause."

Turns out, casino reps later told the state unemployment insurance division they had no record of Kamm contacting human resources to complain about his work conditions.

Unfortunately, Kamm created no paper trail to prove otherwise, so the state found him ineligible for unemployment benefits. He says he wouldn’t have quit without a new job lined up, if he had understood that in Nevada, his status as a recently returned veteran did not guarantee him unemployment pay.

To make matters worse, Kamm says the temporary military pay he got this autumn, for attending a mandatory two-week leadership training after he made sergeant, is now counting against his family in the food-stamp application process.

To date, the soldier estimates he has applied for a job at every Strip hotel’s security department, at multiple security companies and at businesses outside his expertise, including a cabinetry company in Henderson, which would also require a lengthy bus commute.

Kamm’s job struggle is not isolated. Other local veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan also are reporting job snags. Some can’t find work at all; others find the prior job or employer has altered in ways that put the veteran at a disadvantage.

Pfc. Nicole Cranor of the Nevada Army National Guard’s 72nd Military Company got back from Iraq in September. As of late November she had not located permanent work. She has a suspicion, but no proof, that companies don’t want to hire a young, relatively inexperienced Guardswoman who may have to re-deploy. But federal law only addresses returning employees; it doesn’t prevent a prospective employer from holding a job candidate’s continuing military obligation against him or her.

Veterans who return to Nevada can apply for unemployment benefits, says Lynn Baird, a spokesman from the state’s Southern Nevada unemployment claims office.

"Just because you’ve worn the proud flag of America on your sleeve, it doesn’t make it harder, or less hard," to qualify for benefits, he says.

Completing a tour of active duty — 90 days or more — for the Guard or Reserves is equivalent to being laid off, in the eyes of Nevada unemployment officials.

Many returning veterans qualify for unemployment if they don’t find jobs, Baird says. But not all veterans do, because the receipt of Nevada benefits is based on the applicant’s work history up to 18 months prior. A veteran who deployed for only a short time, but did not work at all in the civilian period preceding deployment — perhaps because he or she was a student — may not have accumulated past earnings to be eligible for unemployment.

A returning soldier who lands a job and then quits, as Kamm did, is a different story, according to Baird, who did not comment on Kamm’s case.

Self-employed soldiers face unique challenges when they reenter the civilian workplace. At least one soldier with the 314th lost his livelihood, according to 1st Sgt. Wesley Deegan, who is in the same division. The soldier owned a small landscaping outfit that was doing fine when he went overseas in April 2007. By the time he returned in April 2008, it was out of business. The economy had soured during his absence, and he could not shore up the company from long distance.

Thomas Grande, 32, found his job in maintenance at the Forum Shops secure, at the same pay, when he returned in September from duty in Iraq with the Nevada Army National Guard 72nd Military Police Company. But the job description was entirely new.

Before deploying, Grande had coordinated tenant improvements at the mall, which is attached to Caesars Palace. He enjoyed the challenging work, which involved "lots of (safety) rules and regulations they have to follow." While Grande was overseas, those duties were absorbed into a different level of management. So he is supervising a group of employees who maintain the heating and cooling systems.

At first Grande was bummed. "I lost my (work) cell phone. I lost my (work) e-mail." But he has since come to terms with the change: "No. 1, I’m home alive. No. 2, I have a job. With the economy as bad as it is, I’m just glad I have a job."

Sharon Dixon, 50, returned from deployment to Iraq in late 2003, well before the present economic downturn. She returned to the same large employer, the public utility now known as NV Energy.

Before going to Iraq, she had supervised employees who took customer cash. While serving with the 72nd Military Police Company, she was injured in an IED explosion. When she got back, she found herself uncomfortably startled at the end of the shift, whenever employees dropped a heavy cash drawer at her work station.

Eventually, Dixon transferred to her present position as an executive assistant, in which she no longer deals with cash drawers. But with memory and concentration problems that have developed since she served, Dixon finds herself stretched learning the new computer software programs required for the position.

Empathy of co-workers and supervisors toward the side issues that veterans face is finite. Bottom line, the private sector wants employees to perform, according to Dixon.

"Still today, I’ll sit and the tears will come," she says of her frustration at her slowed pace of computer learning. "But I jump back in the game."

Contact reporter Joan Whitely at jwhitely@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0268.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Hundreds Attend Slides, Rides and Rock and Roll in North Las Vegas
Hundreds attended the inaugural slides, rides and rock and roll event in North Las Vegas Saturday. The event featured a car show, water slide park and live music. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
It's All Rainbows At The Center's New Cafe
The Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada (The Center) introduced its new coffeeshop, Little Rainbow Cafe, in June. Rainbows are everywhere, even in the lattes and toast, and employees wear t-shirts with the quote "Be a rainbow in someone's cloud." Owner Ben Sabouri said the concept is "built around the idea of, you know, be kind and treat everybody the same." (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get a Rainbow Latte at the The Center's Little Rainbow Cafe
The Center, a community center for the LGBTQ community of Southern Nevada, has a new cafe. Little Rainbow Cafe serves up a pride-inspired signature "Rainbow Latte." (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pedestrian killed trying to cross Sahara
A pedestrian was killed Friday trying to cross Sahara Avenue near Maryland Parkway about 5 a.m. A sedan struck the pedestrian while the person was outside the crosswalk between Maryland Parkway and Pardee Place, according to Las Vegas police. Police also said the driver of the sedan remained at the site of the crash. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene. This is the 75th fatal crash that Las Vegas police have investigated in 2018.
Man shot multiple times
Las Vegas police are investigating after a man was shot multiple times early Friday morning. The shooting was called in about 3:20 a.m. at the Harbor Island Apartments, 370 E. Harmon Ave., near Koval Lane. The man was hospitalized and is expected to survive, but police are still searching for the shooter.
Former Military Police Corps Officer Celebrates 100th Birthday
Summerlin resident Gene Stephens, who served as a military policeman in WWII and escorted then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and President Roosevelt during the war, turned 100 on July 13, 2018. He credits his longevity to living a normal life, exercising regularly and eating three square meals a day. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Motorcyclist suffers serious injuries
A motorcycle rider was seriously injured Tuesday night after a crash on Charleston Boulevard. The crash was reported just before 10 p.m. near Durango Drive, according to Las Vegas police. The motorcyclist was hospitalized with unknown injuries but is expected to survive. Las Vegas police are investigating the cause of the accident.
CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara Has Lunch With Students
New Clark County School District superintendent Jesus Jara continued his listening tour by having lunch with students at Red Rock Elementary School as part of the district's summer lunch program. In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children under the age of 18 can find a free lunch at 104 different locations across the valley through the summer months. Jara highlighted the free program and the importance of eating healthy during his visit. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Timeline Leading Up to Scott Dozier's Execution
Scott Dozier is set to be executed by lethal injection the night of July 11 at Ely State Prison. Dozier was convicted of the April 2002 killing of 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller and was given the death penalty in Oct. 2007. In 2016 Dozier asked in a letter to District Judge Jennifer Togliatti requesting that he “be put to death.” A three-drug cocktail of midazolam, a sedative; the painkiller fentanyl; and cisatracurium, a paralytic, is expected to end his life. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Program Helps Mothers Battling Addiction
Jennifer Stanert has battled drug addiction on and off for the last 21 years. It caused her to lose custody of one of her children, Alec, after she gave birth while high. A new program at Dignity Health St. Rose Dominican Hospitals aims to connect mothers like Stanert with community resources and provide case management services while still pregnant to get connected to lactation and parenting classes, group peer support and education on neonatal abstinence syndrome. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Felon caught with guns in Mandalay Bay room 3 years before Las Vegas shooting
A felon was caught with guns in a Mandalay Bay hotel room three years before the October 1st mass shooting. Six weapons were found inside Kye Aaron Dunbar’s 24th floor room in November 2014. Four were semi-automatic. One was a scoped rifle pointing toward the Strip, according to court documents. Dunbar was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for unlawful possession. The case just came to light in a lawsuit accusing Mandalay Bay of negligence in connection with the Oct. 1st shooting.
Illegal fireworks in the Las Vegas area garner complaints
Clark County received nearly 25,000 complaints over the Independence Day holiday on a new illegal fireworks site. Reports from the site led to at least 10 illegal fireworks busts across the valley overnight. As of Thursday morning, the county is still compiling the total number of citations issued.
House fire displaces 2 people
Two people were displaced after a house fire early Thursday morning. The fire, at 963 Temple Drive in east Las Vegas, was reported just after midnight, according to a battalion chief from the Clark County Fire Department. Crews from the North Las Vegas and Las Vegas fire departments also were called in to help. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
"Red White and Boom" July 4 Fireworks at the Stratosphere
Full video of the Fourth of July "Red White and Boom" fireworks show at the Stratosphere as seen from the 8th floor Elation Pool. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
July 4th fireworks at the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite
July 4th fireworks at the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite. (7-04-18) (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Crowds Enjoy Fireworks at the Stratosphere
Revelers enjoyed watching fireworks displays from the Stratosphere's 8th floor Elation pool on July 4. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pedestrian killed in Henderson
A pedestrian trying to cross St. Rose Parkway at Bermuda was hit by a vehicle on Tuesday night and later died. The crash was reported around 11:30 p.m. Las Vegas police responded initially, but handed over the investigation to Henderson police once it was determined the accident happened in their jurisdiction. Las Vegas police did respond to a report of a pedestrian being hit by a vehicle on the Strip. The person, who was hit by a BMW near Fashion Show mall, suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries.
USPS owes $3.5 million for using Vegas Statue of Liberty on stamp
The United States Postal Service has been ordered to pay $3.5 million to a sculptor after using the Las Vegas replica of the Statue of Liberty in a stamp. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Officer Brent Horlacher shoots at Jessie Murillo
Las Vegas police video of an officer-involved shooting on June 29, 2018. Officer Brent Horlacher, 28, fired a single shot at suspect Jessie Murillo. Murillo was not injured. The radio audio is of the officer who fired the gun and the body camera video is from a different officer. Radio audio excerpts are added to the video and are not the precise times the audio was spoken.
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
UNLV professor cautions dangers of distracted walking
An alarming number of adults do not cross the street safely according to a study conducted by professor Tim Bungum of the School of Community Health Sciences at the UNLV. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas-Review Journal) @brokejournalist
Car left in remote desert 21 years is recovered for late owner's children
Showboat casino blackjack dealer Mark Blackburn died outside of White Hills, Ariz. 21 years ago. His 1980 Datsun B310 wagon remained in the remote desert until a network of volunteers recovered the car for his children. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Resort on Mount Charleston Sold for $4.8 million
North Carolina couple and hoteliers Deanna and Colin Crossman have purchased the Resort on Mount Charleston for $4.8 million. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Traffic stop turns into officer-involved shooting
Las Vegas police are investigating after an officer fired a shot at a suspect fleeing a traffic stop early Friday morning. The officer tried to pull over a black Dodge Durango with license plates that belonged to a different vehicle. The driver took off northbound on Lamb Boulevard and at one point crossed into the southbound lanes. A man got out of the car and fled on foot. During the chase, the officer saw something in the man’s hand and fired a single shot, police said. The man wasn’t injured and was later taken into custody. Police could not confirm if the man had a weapon when he was arrested. This is the 9th officer involved shooting of 2018. Per police policy, the identity of the officer will be released after 48 hours. 01:05
5 Dead in Shooting at Capital Gazette Newspaper in Maryland
5 Dead in Shooting at Capital Gazette Newspaper in Maryland Five people have been killed and two have been injured in a "targeted attack" at the newspaper, which is owned by the Baltimore Sun. Anne Arundel County deputy police chief Bill Krampf said the suspected gunman entered the building with a shotgun and walked through the lower level of the building, where the newspaper is housed. According to Krampf, the suspect "possibly" had a connection to the paper through social media. The suspect was identified as Jarrod Warren Ramos. Ramos filed a defamation claim in 2012 against the paper but the case was dismissed. He is currently in custody. President Trump was briefed on the events.
Clark County Fire inspects fireworks booths
Clark County Fire Prevention Inspector Amanda Wildermuth talks about inspecting fireworks booths to keep everyone safe on Fourth of July. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Robbery suspects apprehended
Four robbery suspects were taken into custody Thursday morning after a vehicle and foot chase that ended in an east Las Vegas neighborhood. The incident began when a person was robbed at gunpoint around 4:45 a.m. near Maryland Parkway and Desert Inn. Officers arriving at the scene tried to stop two vehicles. One vehicle escaped but police chased the second into a neighborhood on Flamingo Road near Mountain Vista Street. Police surrounded the neighborhood and the suspects were apprehended. It looked like one police vehicle was involved in a collision with the suspects' car. One woman suffered an unknown injury and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. 01:04
Las Vegas Monsoon and Flood Season Are Approaching
The Clark County Flood Control District held a press conference to remind the public that monsoon season begins in July and runs through September. The exceptionally rainy season brings with it dangerous flooding events that can put the public in danger. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Garage catches fire in central valley
No one was injured after a detached garage caught fire early Wednesday morning on Lawry Avenue near Lake Mead Boulevard and MLK. Crews from the Las Vegas Fire Department responded to a fire call just after 2 a.m. When they arrived, firefighters had to cut holes in the roof to clear out smoke inside the garage so firefighters could enter safely, The cause of the fire is still under investigation. No injuries were reported.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like