DENVER - The hiring freeze on federal employees is impacting one group more than most; young veterans.
Brian Erickson, one of those young veterans impacted by the freeze, always knew he wanted to serve his country. He joined the Marines right out of high school in 2003. His service took him to Iraq, but when it ended, he wasn't so clear about what would be next.
"It was kind of a struggle trying to find that purpose again," Erickson says.
Erickson says finding the right job was a struggle too.
"My first job I was a landscaper," Erickson remembers.
His story is not uncommon. Experts say over a million veterans are underemployed, and a half a million are unemployed. And recently it has gotten worse for young veterans. The unemployment rate climbed from 4.4 percent in September to 6.3 percent in January. And a federal hiring freeze could make things even worse.
Brenton Hutson works with Volunteer of America to help veterans.
"I think it presents a pretty grim and bleak picture for them," Hutson says.
He says the federal government is a main source of civilian employment for veterans because of its preferential hiring practices toward them.
"So they have a plan they are pursuing careers in that area and then they get out and all of a sudden that plan is not realistic or it becomes set up on a timeline that means that they need to go out and do something else," Hutson says.
Hutson says he tells veterans to have as many options as possible, but Erikson says losing the federal employment option hurts.
"I think that you should get that preference when you do service especially when you were trying to go back in to serve those that you potentially served with," Erickson says. "It makes all the sense in the world to have that pipeline just smooth."
A third of federal workers are veterans. And some experts say the freeze not only affects veterans getting jobs but getting services because of understaffing.