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U.S. Marine vet: Employing veterans is not charity

Offering positions to former service members shouldn't be considered charity work, Sgt. Dakota Meyer told msnbc.
Dakota Meyer
Dakota Meyer

The gap that exists between veterans and employers during the job hunt is a continuing issue, but offering positions to former service members shouldn't be considered charity work, Sgt. Dakota Meyer told msnbc on Tuesday.

"You can't just step in this and do it like a charity," the veteran U.S. Marine said during a greenroom interview. "It's going to better you. It's going to better your company on top of it, plus you're giving a veteran a job…but you can't just step into it and say, 'I'm going to halfway do it.' "

Sgt. Meyer served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was awarded a Medal of Honor—the country's highest military recognition—in 2011 for repeatedly running through enemy fire in Afghanistan to recover the bodies of four Americans. He ultimately saved the lives of 36 American service members and Afghan civilians.

As a spokesperson for "Hiring Our Heroes," he helps veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment. Recently, he helped launch an online tool that provides users with the language needed for a pitch to possible employers.

"The big problem is that they don't understand what they're getting in a veteran," Sgt. Meyer said on Morning Joe. "We don't come out and talk about what we're good at and translating what we did in the military to civilian workforce. It's hard to do unless someone teaches him how to do that."

Upon returning from his deployments, Sgt. Meyer began working at a construction company in his home state of Kentucky. He also co-authored a book, "Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War," which is now sold in paperback.

"If I come in and you're an employer and I say, 'Well I was a sniper in the Marine Corps. Do you have any sniper positions open?' 'No,' " Sgt. Meyer said. "But if I told you that I was good at communication, good at leadership under stressful environments, team management, personnel management, leadership, being prompt, are stuff that I can bring to the table."

The unemployment rate for younger veterans who served during the recent wartime era was 7.3% in May—down from the 12.7% rate recorded during the same month in 2012, according to NBC News.

"You get a veteran and you turn him away," Sgt. Meyer said. "It's unfortunate."

Related: Col. Jack Jacobs: Troops are better qualified job seekers

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Watch Sgt. Meyer's Morning Joe interview: