Returning Augusta-based National Guard soldiers find job search difficult

Job searches are hard enough in this economy, but some Augusta-based National Guard soldiers are looking for work from 6,000 miles away.

The 877th Engineering Company is set to return to Augusta in mid-December, and many soldiers are worried they won’t have work when they get back.

Sgt. 1st Class Jason Koharchik is trying to get the word out in Aiken and Augusta on behalf of his soldiers.

“I would hate to see a soldier just returning from war standing in the unemployment line,” Koharchik wrote in an e-mail last week.

The skill sets among the soldiers vary, but since January they’ve been operating heavy machinery such as bulldozers, cranes and road graders.

The soldiers, between the ages of 20 and 35, are all engineers or mechanics. Their duties include building shelters out of bomb-resistant Hesco barriers and filling craters created by roadside bombs.

Most will return with 30 to 45 days of leave stored up but will start searching for work in earnest after Christmas, Koharchik said.

Catherine Tindall’s husband, Spc. Bret Tindall, has been trying to find work for the past two months while juggling his duties abroad.

“He’s been focused on it like crazy,” she said.

In a brief Web chat, Tindall said from Afghanistan that he’s sent his résumé to many places, but hasn’t heard back from any of them. It’s a struggle, he said, because the Internet connection is poor and he can’t meet with anyone face-to-face.

Catherine Tindall is looking forward to taking time off with her husband and two girls over Christmas. Her husband was away when their daughter Lillian was born in April, so the father and daughter will have to get acquainted.

But after Christmas, “I’m going to hit it hard,” Bret Tindall said about his job search.

Koharchik said it’s hard enough to return to civilian life without worrying about putting food on the table.

“The parades are nice, the medals and ribbons come with the territory, but a good paying job with health care are what the soldiers need,” he said.

WANT TO HELP?

Contact Sgt. 1st Class Jason Koharchik at jkoharchik@yahoo.com.

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