Robert Freniere has three graduate degrees earned during a 30-year career in the military, which included a position as an aide to Pentagon brass. So it might come as a surprise that now he is living out of his mini-van and having a hard time finding a job.
For six hours a day on a computer at the public library, Freniere fills out job applications with no luck yet, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported earlier this week. Staring at the computer screens is difficult for him though. He has dyslexia, according to the newspaper.
Freniere admits that he’s one of many jobless, homeless veterans.
Freneire comes from a military family, so it was only natural that he would enter himself. He joined the Army after the Vietnam War ended and later transferred to the Air Force where he served in several combat zones. Freneire got a job in the Pentagon in 2000 and was there when it was hit by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001.
In 2005, he was ready to deploy to Iraq, but a back injury he sustained in his 20s flared up and required surgery instead. The next year after recovering, Freneire retired from the military, but it took yet another year for him to find a job as a defense contractor.
Freneire became homeless about two years ago when he became estranged from his wife and expenses from debt and college tuition for his two sons began adding up. He has been unemployed since August 2012, but still receives annual pension from the military of $40,000.
“I’ve got a lot of good experience. I’ve got two beautiful sons. I’ve got a van. I don’t know how long it’s going to hold up, but I’ve got it. I’ve got a lot of things to be thankful for,” he said.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has said its working to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
Watch the VA’s public service announcement about this initiative: