When Marine Lance Corporal Kaleb McCarthy returned home from war last Saturday night, his loving family wasn’t the only thing awaiting him here in Colorado. So was reality.
The soldier from Craig, Colorado – who turned 22 Wednesday – is just back from the front lines in Afghanistan, and gets out of the Marines for good in a couple of months. And like thousands of other soldiers, he doesn’t know what’s next.
“I've been thinking about it, but I'm taking it one step at a time. I know the job market is hard, but I'm gonna just get out there and try to do the best I can,” Kaleb told FOX 31 Denver Saturday at Denver International Airport.
It’s because of soldiers like Kaleb, that some volunteers in Douglas County got together Tuesday and Wednesday and held the Military and Veterans Employment Expo. It was organized with help from Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
More than just a job fair, this expo is a chance for soldiers to figure out how to write a resume that doesn’t use “military-speak.” Classes are held on social networking, career exploration, how to get ahead of the competition, and what not to do during a job interview.
They’re skills Marc Messier needs. The 23 year old Afghanistan veteran just got out of the Air Force a month and ten days ago. Now, he’s one of the more than one million unemployed veterans in the US.
“I have some school, not much, so it's kind of like you're in the middle, you're in a bind. What do you want to do? Where do you want to go? I don't know,” Messier said.
Connecting those dots is what they hope to do here, by only allowing serious employers who are hiring right now to set up a booth. They also want to teach the veterans to leave a lasting impression on their potential bosses.
“We have people who have gone to multiple job fairs in the last few months, and they say that they feel like they’re just a number and they’re not getting that one on one interaction.”
That kind of interaction is something Kaleb McCarthy could use. But he does have a plan.
“I'm actually wanting to be a US Marshall, so gonna try to do that, and if I can't do that, do some plumbing.”
This is uneasy territory for soldiers like McCarthy. He’s use to other people – his military bosses – making all the decisions for him. Now, it’s all up to him.
For more information on the Military & Veterans Employment Expo just held in Douglas County, click here: http://www.mvee.org/
If you’re a servicemember separating from active duty, looking to qualify for unemployment compensation, click here: http://www.military.com/benefits/content/veteran-benefits/veteran-unemployment-compensation.html
To help a new Denver charity, aimed at helping the most severely wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans reintegrate into civilian life, check out the Wounded Warriors Impacting Neighbors website by clicking here: http://wwin4warriors.com/