Local Jacksonville Beach business owner brings awareness to military unemployment

Jacksonville Beach, FL. — James O’Brien invested 21 years of his life to serve the United States.

He loved being a military member, but wanted something more.

“I worked very hard and I could only go as high as the Navy would allow me to go,” O’Brien said. “I wanted to see how far I could take life.”

O’Brien recently retired and opened his own business, The Ground Guys Jacksonville Beach and Oceanway. it has not been easy and he acknowledges that the pandemic hasn’t helped.

The veteran unemployment rate was 5.9% in October.

In September it was at 6.8%.

During the peak of the pandemic in April, the unemployment rate was as high as 12% and more than one million veterans filed for jobless benefits that month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

O’Brien said veteran unemployment has always been a concern.

Many leave the service with a resume of skills instead of “places worked.”

However, O’Brien believes the characteristics and skills you learn in the service make you a good employee anywhere.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the military. I wouldn’t have these skills,” O’Brien said.

A recent study by the Small Business Administration shows that 45% of former military veterans, including O’Brien, are more likely to own a small business than non-veterans.

O’Brien said he retired knowing that if he put 110% of his effort into something, he could overcome any challenge. For job resources, counseling, or just more information, click here: