If Army veteran Michael Schlitz were filling out a job application, he'd consider his graduation from sniper school a top accomplishment.
Schlitz, an Army Ranger who was severely burned and lost both arms in an explosion in Iraq, knows most human resource directors would not be impressed.
"If I'm applying for a job as a teller in a bank, the HR person is probably going to say, 'It's nice you finished sniper school but we don't need anyone killed today,' " Schlitz said.
Both veterans applying for jobs and the people who hire them need better education about the skills those returning from the battlefield can offer local employers. That's one reason Schlitz and Wichita businessman and Army veteran Karl Monger have started an organization to help veterans reintegrate into the community.
GallantFew became a registered nonprofit corporation last summer and is making Wichita its pilot project, which Monger and Schlitz hope will become a national model for aiding war veterans.
Take that sniper school entry on the resume for the bank teller.
"It takes incredible knowledge of calculations to be a sniper," said Monger, a former Army Ranger.
But few veterans know how to express those kinds of skills on their resumes after returning from active duty.
"If they know I have skills in working independently, giving attention to detail, well, those may be skills that bank wants in a teller," Schlitz added.
The goal of GallantFew is to match returning veterans with those who already have jobs and have become successful in business to mentor and teach those kinds of skills.
They've done that on a smaller scale, creating a national network of people who served in the Army Rangers, to help them stay connected.
"The Army Rangers are some of the most highly trained people in the military," Monger said.
"But once they leave, no one knows who they are, except for their families," he said. "But there's a bond there and things we all have in common. I'd like to know who they are in my community."
Monger said there may be three or four former Army Rangers in Wichita, but there have been 1,800 men and women who have returned to Wichita from active duty since the first of the year.
Monger said the numbers show that those who have fought for their country face difficulty returning to civilian life.
* The unemployment rate for male veterans who have served since Sept. 11, 2001, is 21.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That compares to 9.1 percent for non-veterans.
* There are more than 100,000 homeless veterans nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, with about 1.5 million at risk of homelessness, in part because of poor support networks.
* Veterans account for one in five suicides, according to the VA.
Monger remembered having trouble finding a job when he returned to Wichita in 1993.
Fellow veteran Bill Cooper helped Monger land a job as a construction equipment salesman. Cooper now serves on the board of GallantFew.
Monger ended up as a construction manager, and has also served as executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Sedgwick County.
He said Cooper's initial help served as an impetus for GallantFew.
"The hope is it will open up doors that would otherwise not be open," Monger said.
Debbie Donaldson, director of human services for Sedgwick County, said Monger and Schlitz are filling one of the priorities identified by the county.
"They've just kind of taken it and run with it," she said.
The group's immediate needs are money and mentors.
Monger said they want to raise more than $100,000 by Veterans Day.
"We want to raise $111,111 by 11-11-11," Monger said.
Veterans who are already in business can sign up to be mentors on the group's website, gallantfew.org. People who want to donate also can do that through the website.
"I know there can be such a disconnect between veterans and their community," Schlitz said. "But veterans have such good training, we're hoping to show people that by having an employed veteran contributing to the community, it not only helps him or her, it also helps the entire community."