A Walmart employee gathers pushcarts outside a Walmart store in Paramount, California on November 23, 2012. (Getty Images)
ATLANTA -- The unemployment rate in Georgia is down a bit.
The state's labor department says the jobless rate dropped to 8.6% last month. That's the department's lowest rate since January 2009.
Officials say the decrease is because employers are creating more jobs and there have been fewer workers laid off.
But that's not the case for our veterans.
As more and more troops return from active duty in Afghanistan, the ranks of unemployment continue to swell.
And for Georgia veterans, getting a job is not easy.
"I stayed at home on the computer from sun-up to sundown day after day and a couple of days I just gave up. I'm not going to find anything. My unemployment got me through, but then I got a letter saying it was going to end, so I got back up and said I must find something," said Michael Mackey, a US Marine veteran.
The unemployment rate for Georgia National Guard troops is 20%, and that's three times higher than the State's overall unemployment average.
But big companies are stepping up close the gap and "Hire our Heroes."
Marine Corporal Michael Mackey did find something, landing a job at Walmart in its new Vine City superstore.
He's part of Walmart's Veterans Hiring Program aimed at adding 100,000 jobs over the next 5 years.
And Mackey isn't alone.
Marvin Thompson, a US Army vet, was out of work for more than 6 months.
"I just kept a positive attitude through my experience and training with the military and kept going forward," he said.
Actively involved in the veterans hiring program is Walmart Vine City Manager, Quincy Springs.
He served in Afghanistan as an Army Captain, holds the Bronze Star and is committed to honoring his fallen comrades by giving back.
"It gives me great pride to say I can now live a life worthy of their sacrifice to serve the community well and also give other veterans an opportunity to do the same," he said.
Other major companies "Hiring our Heroes" include Aarons, UPS and Home Depot, together providing nearly 30,000 jobs for veterans.