SF job fair held for war vets

September 9, 2008 7:36:04 PM PDT
There was a big turnout of veterans at a job fair in San Francisco which was specifically for them. Many say they served their country honorably, but the job market hasn't treated them honorably.

"I was a battlefield medic in the military but none of that means a whole lot," says Jerry Ramos, Iraq Veteran.

Ramos joined the Navy when he was only 17. Now he's 24. He's served two tours in Iraq and says it's difficult getting real job.

"Actually, with the economy and the recession, I honestly would say yes," says Ramos.

Ramos dropped in to the job fair held by the veterans group Swords to Plowshares. About three dozen employers were hiring.

"It's all about transitioning back to civilian society and that usually starts with a job," says Michael Blecker, Swords to Plowshares.

Many are veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, but Robert McLaughlin is a 60-year-old Vietnam vet, who's been homeless and out of work for two years. They're the ones in a never ending vicious cycle.

"The difficulty is not having a job history, having to explain your homelessness and no matter what reason you have, it doesn't seem to be enough for most employers."

But Rachel Mahimer is bubbly and full of confidence. She was with the National Guard in Iraq.

"With my one year of duty in Iraq, I was able to expand my horizon. I realized that things I can't do, I can do."

Employers we spoke with say that spirit is what makes veterans good employees.

ray mark is with the state employment development dept.

"They're disciplined. They know how to do the job. They know how to take orders.," says Ray Mark with the Employment Development Department.

But, those traits haven't helped 21-year-old Sean McKeen find a job. He was with the army, clearing minefields in Iraq. McKeen was discharged last fall and he's still looking for his first job.

"They just usually never call me back. I don't know. They don't care," says McKeen.

He says being homeless makes it even tougher.

"Just worrying about where I'm going to stay. Where I'm going to eat and then getting a job on top of that."

We thought McKeen would stick around longer, but he had other things to attend to ? like finding a place of shelter and figuring out where his next meal was going to come from.


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