LACKAWANNA, NY - There was once a time when military veterans retired from the service, and had civilian jobs waiting for them. Today's returning veterans say those days are long gone and finding a suitable career isn't any easier for them.
Sergeant Troy Jackson served 9-years in the U.S. Marine Corps. Wednesday afternoon Jackson was out looking for a job at the "Hiring Our Heroes" Job Fair, hosted by the American Legion Matthew Glab Post #1477.
"You know I got a few smaller positions just to get me by from time to time, but its not easy," said Jackson.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, veterans who served since September 11, 2001 make up just over 12-percent of the unemployment rate. It gets even worse for males under the age of 25 who make up nearly 30-percent of the unemployment rate.
Sergeant Jackson faces another major hurdle in his search for a job. Jackson says most times its hard translating military skills into a civilian job. He often uses this one example.
"Explaining to them what an ANTPS-59X System is. They don't tend to understand that too well," said Jackson.
"Hiring Our Heroes" job fairs started last year to help companies all across the nation find dependable employees. Fifty local companies including Moog Incorporated, came out for the fair to meet with about 400 veterans.
Carolyn Dubicki works in the company's HR Department. She told 2 On Your Side, "I think there's close to about 50 openings that I'm actually looking for right now so maybe we can make that connection."
And it's that connection veterans like Jackson want. They want to be hired for their dependability.
"You come from a very structured system. We have that routine and the discipline you learn. That training, practicing those job skills that you do in the military. It becomes habitual," said Jackson.
Since starting last year "Hiring Our Heroes" job fairs have helped 8,000 returning veterans find jobs at 5,000 different companies nationwide.
Last year, President Obama signed the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act into law which means employers get tax credits of up to $9,600 for hiring vets. The Hiring our Heroes program is growing: Last year there were 100 job fairs. This year that number has jumped to 400.