BUFFALO, NY - There are more than a million unemployed veterans in the United States. The VA Hospital in Buffalo, New York has a unique Skills Center that assists veterans looking for work.
Susan Cotter started the program 20-years ago. She says there is now a Skills Center in Richmond, Virginia that is modeled after the program in Buffalo.
"There's nothing more frustrating than to have been in a job for 25-years and then suddenly be laid off and you're 50-years-old. Where do you start? Many veterans never had to fill out a resume before."
Up to 100 veterans may stop into the center for help on any given day.
The Skills Center is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. It is also open Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. It is located inside the hospital on Bailey Avenue. There are two New York State certified teachers who assist veterans with reading, writing, math, and language skills.
Some veterans come to the center to prepare for the GED exam or learn basic computer skills or practice interviewing skills. "We also do resume writing. We help veterans get their discharge papers," said Cotter.
Melissa Reeder was in the Navy and is now home searching for a job. "There is a lot here, there are tons of programs that will pretty much hold your hand to get you in a job," she said.
Hugh Davis, served in the Marine agrees. "I come here to use the computer for job searches, update resumes and that's beneficial because everything you do now is on a computer."
Jason Plew was in the Army in the 1970's. He recently returned to Western New York and wants to work. The Skills Center has been worthwhile. "They're very organized here at the VA and everybody is very pleasant and very helpful," said Plew.
Cotter told 2 On Your Side that many older veterans dropped out of school to serve their country, "now we owe them, we owe them big time," and that's why she finds the job rewarding. Her father is a veteran; now she believes she is giving back to his generation.
"We started the program here 20-years ago. It's one of the only VA's in the whole country that has a skill center. We're in partnership with the VA," said Cotter.
All this week, NBC is participating in Hiring Our Heroes along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There is additional information on their website about job fairs in different cities.
A local job fair for vets is set for Wednesday, May 2nd from 1-5 PM at the Matthew Glab Post #1477 located at 1965 Abbott Road in Lackawanna.