From military veterans to law enforcers

After a decade in the U.S. Marine Corps, Cody Weis has a new mission -- to get a job. He has his sights on being a law enforcement officer.

"I like the purpose behind it," says Weis. "That's one of the reasons I joined the military. It's a bigger role. You serve, protect." He spent the day cruising the booths at a veterans job fair at Minute Maid Park, talking to recruiters from various departments. Recruiters like Macla Aguilera with the Baytown Police Department, who also did a stint in the Marine Corps.

"You want to help veterans come out and get a job," says Aguilera. "I know that some of them struggle. There's some that it's not so easy for them.”

Military veterans say they like the structure, the camaraderie and the sense of purpose found in both the military and in law enforcement. Nobody keeps official statistics about the amount of people who leave the military and join law enforcement, but the estimates are high, ranging from around fifteen to fifty percent. Smaller departments have to compete with larger wealthier ones to attract recruits.

But there's something happening in Washington, D.C. right now that could make it easier for smaller departments to recruit veterans.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn has formally introduced the American Law Enforcement Heroes Act. It would prioritize the Department of Justice grant applications from agencies who recruit and hire veterans -- that's $25,000 per hire.            

Some critics contend that hiring combat veterans to serve in our cities might be courting disaster. The mission of combat and keeping the peace are different missions. Post traumatic stress disorder among returning veterans is a major problem and could be made worse by the stresses of police work. Job fair organizers say that’s not entirely accurate.

“It's important to remember that the majority of the military is not combat arms. they're not out kicking in doors. it's closer to fifteen percent,” says event planner Chris Newsome with Recruit Military, the organization behind the job fair.