DENVER (CBS4)– As veterans return from serving their country many are overwhelmed at the prospect of getting full-time employment or embarking on a career.

In Colorado, about 25,000 veterans are college students. A program called “Boots to Suits” at the University of Colorado Denver hopes to help them transition from life in combat to civilian life.

The Labor Department estimates that the unemployment rate for veterans under the age of 25 is about 20 percent.

The Boots to Suits program was started in 2012 to improve the unemployment rate by connecting military veterans with professional job opportunities through employment training and networking.

Izzy Abbass is the program director of Boots to Suits. He said it’s a challenge for new veterans to sell themselves and articulate their experiences.

“Because they haven’t been part of the community, they really don’t have the network connections and the ties in the community to find out who they should be talking to as they seek to enter employment,” said Abbass.

Lisa Mclaws spent six years in the Air Force Reserves. She’s a student seeking a career in psychology. She has enrolled in the Boots to Suit program and is mentored by Jennifer Anderson, an associate director at Rocky Mountain Human Services.

“This would be a great opportunity for me to discover the different areas that a degree in psychology could offer,” Mclaws said.

“I want to be a sounding board, someone she can come to with questions,” Anderson said.

Since the program started 87 students have completed it and 100 percent of them found jobs.

Sean Sullivan is one of those students. He found his sounding board and mentor at CBS4 News with News Director Tim Wieland.

Sullivan went from working with chemical weapons in the military to interning at Colorado’s News Channel where he edited video for the newscasts.

His new home is High Noon Productions where he edits adventure shows. Sullivan gives credit to Boots to Suits for opening the door to his career.

“They basically taught me how to network, who to network with, and how to reach my goals,” Sullivan said.

The goal of Boots to Suits is to help veterans succeed, so far they are doing just that.

Within three months of completing the program students have found job placement at places such as Denver International Airport and the City of Denver.

The Independence Eve Celebration will include a salute to the military.


SECTION: Independence Eve

By Timothy Pham for


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