When Richard Salcole called it quits on his 30-year career in the Australian Defence Force, he wasn't expecting to face a brand new battle just to find a job.
But after months of rejected applications, the Wagga veteran remained unemployed, which took a major toll on his existing mental health issues.
"You start feeling worthless and like you made a big mistake by getting out of Defence," he said. "All you want is a job so you can get your self-worth back, build up your self-esteem and be more productive."
Mr Salcole said he felt many of the skills he'd developed while in Defence, such as time-management and organisation, seemed to be overlooked by potential employers.
At the top of his list was a job with Wagga City Council, as he wanted to give back to the community that had supported him during his service. But each application he made to work for the council was unsuccessful and returned without feedback.
In the five years that followed, the veteran unemployment issue has been thrust into the limelight in Australia.
Both the NSW government and the federal government have made strides to hire more veterans, however councils across the state have lagged behind.
Earlier this week, Wagga councillor Dan Hayes filed a motion calling on the council to consider ways to change its recruitment processes and attract more veterans to apply.
"Wagga is known as the home of the soldier and with that comes deep connections with the Defence forces. I think those connections should continue even for those who leave the Defence," he said.
Cr Hayes suggested a "rank to grade" guide, which aligns military ranks with council jobs they would be suitable for, as well as giving people a way to indicate their veteran-status when applying.
He also said the council should consider providing veterans with feedback after unsuccessful applications.
"All I'm asking is for council to make a bit of extra effort to encourage and support veterans applying - I think it's the least we can do," Cr Hayes said.
The motion was supported unanimously by the city's councillors and a report on how the changes could potentially be implemented will be put together over the coming months.
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Mr Salcole welcomed the initiative and urged the council to take the next step and implement the changes.
"I personally think it's about time because the federal government have had this for a while and so has the state government," he said.
"If they're serious about it then they should jump on board, launch the initiative and start taking on more veterans in the selection process."
As part of Cr Hayes' motion, Wagga City Council will also write to other councils in the Riverina and invite them to make similar changes to their recruitment processes.
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