Military veterans often return from serving their country to face disappointment and despair, and many of them are finding it harder to get jobs than the rest of the U.S.
Now, a series of job fairs are being set up to help put veterans, and their skills, back to work.
San Pedro’s World Business Center hosted a veteran jobs fair Tuesday, when more than 20 companies set up tables to attract job applicants.
Roy Parker served as an aviation electronics specialist in the U.S. Navy. He said he went around the world twice while serving on the aircraft carriers Lincoln and Stennis.
But when Parker returned, he could not find work in his field.
“It’s discouraging to the point of discouragement,” he said, adding that he hoped the job fair would give him an opportunity to change this. “Everyone is out to help us.”
The fair was put on by the Southbay Veterans Employment Committee and PinkSlipMixers, an organization that works to empower the unemployed and the underemployed.
Many military veterans fall into both categories.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans doubled from 2007 to 2011 to a high of 12.1 percent last year.
This year, the picture has improved and some experts are attributing the change to job fairs and outreach programs .
Others cite reduced military-backed educational benefits as driving force pushing more veterans into the job market rather than the classroom.
Army veteran Babette Perry said she was glad she’d gone to the fair.
“It went wonderful,” she said, adding that she had arranged for two interviews.
Stan James of RWM Fiberoptics, in Carson, said his company has job openings that he hoped to fill.
James said he was looking for technicians in the telecommunications field or in fiber optics, video surveillance and security.
“We have lots of openings,” he said. “We have more jobs than we have trainees at the time.”
He said he already identified several candidates at the fair and he plans to bring them to his office for an interview.
Similar fairs are being planned for other cities with large constituencies of veterans, according to the fair organizers.
The military invested a lot of resources in these people, the organizers said. Now, the private sector can benefit from their skills.
“We need to publicly acknowledge that fact and convince companies that our service members will be a valuable resource to make them money,” said Edwin Duterte of PinkSlipMixers.