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If you are returning home as a former soldier or Marine, you might be fighting for a job with the other 12.5 million people out of work. But hold on, Mickey’s got your back!

That’s right, if you were cooking chow for hungry grunts in Iraq, you could possibly become a chef at a high-end restaurant at Disney World in Florida, or a pastry sous chef in Hawaii at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa.

Or you could flip burgers at Disneyland up the freeway in Anaheim.

But it’s not only ex-military cooks that Disneyland would like to recruit--if you have a skill that Uncle Sam taught you, Mickey and Minnie might want to hire you.

From civil engineers to military cops to nurses, Disneyland’s new program “Heroes Work Here” kicked off this spring, and in late May there will be a hiring fair, but you don’t have to attend to apply for a job.

Marion Spellman worked at Disneyland in Anaheim for two years before joining the Army in 2002. Now that she has retired from service, she is hoping to return to the Magic Kingdom and earn a paycheck.

“I worked in Food and Beverage, but I’m looking for something new, now that I have skills that the Army taught me,” she said. “I now have a background in software development, so I hope to find a career that doesn’t require me to wear a costume.”

Spellman applied online and has an interview scheduled the first week in June.

“I’ve got my fingers crossed,” she said. “It’s been pretty bleak as far as the job search goes since I got out of the military.”

For job-seeking veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, rejection happens on a daily basis. Veterans’ advocacy groups and many unemployed veterans say that civilian employers don’t always appreciate veterans’ skills and maturity. They point out that this is the first generation of employers who have no widespread military experience or appreciation for what the institution can provide.

The unemployment rate for veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq is 10.3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For veterans age 24 and under, the rate is 29.1 percent or 12 points higher than for civilians the same age. That compares with 8.2 percent unemployment nationally, and 7.5 percent for all veterans.

A survey this year by the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America found that a quarter of its members could not find a job to match their skill level, and half said they did not believe employers were open to hiring veterans.

Walt Disney, who learned about making movies while working for the Red Cross in Europe during World War I, inspired the people at Disney to hire returning veterans.

In a March 13, 2012, press release announcing the “Heroes Work Here” Initiative, Disney officials stated that they would “provide at least 1,000 jobs and career opportunities for returning U.S. veterans over the next three years, support military families and veterans during their transition into civilian life, and launch a national public awareness campaign to encourage all employers across the U.S. to hire veterans.”

So, what job opportunities are we talking about? They’ll run the gamut from internships to leadership roles and span all segments of the Walt Disney Company. To support this effort, the company will host career fairs and participate in events showcasing job opportunities for returning military personnel.

Brian Marston, an ex-Marine and staff sergeant from Oceanside, has been looking for a job where he can apply his skills managing and training other Marines.

“I found a few jobs [for which] I fit the bill at ESPN, and I’ve applied. If that’s not a dream job, I don’t know what is.”

Returning veterans will be hired at a variety of Disney-owned companies including ESPN, Disney/ABC Television Group, and of course the Disney parks. If you’re a veteran or are facing the possible boot from the military, here is a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious opportunity for you to consider.

To learn more, visit heroesworkhere.disney.com.

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