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Unions Helping Vets Come Home

CORALVILLE, IA (CBS2/FOX28) A few weeks ago, Built By Pros, a group of union workers volunteering their time, helped move the Iowa Veterans Welcome Center into the Veterans Memorial Building in downtown Cedar Rapids. Today, that same veterans group is $775 richer thanks to a donation from AFSCME Local 2985.

That donation is just a small look into the relationship between unions and veterans.

When veterans return home, they look for what they know. That means for many, AFSCME Local 2985 is perfect.

"We're kind of a militant group, said AFSCME Local 2985 President Marty Hathaway. We take orders and we go follow the order."

It represents almost 400 workers inside the Iowa Medical and Classification Center. About a quarter of those are vets. Chad Sauser says his training as a combat medic transfers well to his role now as a correctional officer.

"You kind of have to have a certain bedside manner, said Sauser.

"You're working with a lot of different people with a lot of different backgrounds who have a lot of issues so you've learned to deal with a lot of different stuff that comes up, said Correctional Officer Mary Hulme.

With those skills comes a comradery that only the military can provide. Chad says when soldiers leave, it can be hard for them to replace it.

"I do have a family member that recently got out of the Marines, and he had a very difficult time, said Sauser.

While the bond between people working in a union isnt the same, Hulme says it can help.

"You're trying to do exactly the same thing so everybody tends to work well together, and you see a lot of that both in the military and in the unions, said Hulme.

Her union will go as far as making sure jobs in the correctional system are still open to vets returning from active duty. Its all to make sure its members who have served transition to their civilian lives smoothly.

"It shouldn't ever be hard. It should be the easiest thing for them to do, said Sauser.

Veterans say just a little guidance can go a long way for a vet looking for a job. Often, it is the first time theyre looking for employment.

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