At NJ Fire Dept., Veterans Go to Head of Line

Vets get preferential treatment; 43 hired so far this year
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2013 7:05 AM CST
Updated Nov 12, 2013 8:13 AM CST

(Newser) – Unemployment is a big problem for veterans, so New Jersey's North Hudson Fire Department is doing what it can to help: The department has hired 43 veterans this year, and the fire chief says he plans to hire 10 to 20 more in the near future. The vets who are now firefighters tell NPR that the job is a great fit: They love being able to put their "adrenaline junkie" genes to use in the name of public service, and say that the support they find among their fellow firefighters is key.

"I've always wanted to do it," says one. "I've seen the brotherhood. Everyone [has] each other's backs—the camaraderie same as the military." Adds another, "It's definitely a family atmosphere like the military is." A battalion chief at the station says that, in addition to vets having trouble finding jobs, they sometimes don't like the jobs they do find. One former Marine agrees with him. "You go from somewhere where you have this tremendous amount of responsibility and then you come home and you have a regular old, little job. It almost seems insignificant." But he loves his new job. (Walmart, too, is making it a point to hire veterans.)

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