BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Young men and women go off to war and are trained with special skills, where the slightest mistake could be life-threatening to you and those around you. But when they return home, they can't find a job.
"Hiring Our Heroes" aims to change that. More than 60 employers set up shop in the Connecticut Street Armory, looking to hire a veteran or soon-to-be veteran.
Struggling with a rate of unemployment nearly twice that of non-active military, these men and women are just looking for help, making that transition from skilled warrior to civilian life.
Gulf War veteran Howard Patton said, "There could be a little more work done on that, as far as making sure that the veterans, when they come back home, what they've learned in the military, how to conduct themselves, and how to transfer those things over to civilian life."
"Hiring Our Heroes" job fair is a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has conducted more than 500 of these fairs nationwide since 2011, with more than 18,000 success stories under their belts.
Chief Officer Lieutenant Colonel Kathryn Poynton, an Iraq veteran herself, tells what these veterans and their spouses get from the fair.
"How to approach an employer, how to dress professionally, how to write a resume, and all of those little things that they need in order to be very successful, while they are looking for employment," she explained.
The hardest part for returning war veterans, retired Army Colonel John Burke says, is changing gears, from life on the edge every day, following orders, to taking control and regaining your focus.
Col. Burke said, "Not that combat focus, but that 'I'm a valuable worker/employee focus, I want to come back into my neighborhood. I want to provide the skills that I've learned in the service, back into my community.'"
And these employers appreciate those special skills.
Kathleen Pascucci of EGW Staffing said, "They are very reliable. They are accountable and honest, and have a high level of integrity and character."
This was the second "Hiring Our Heroes" job fair in two years in Buffalo. It's estimated there are around 70,000 veterans in Erie County.
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