Santa Maria - North County

Veterans struggling to find a job get a helping hand

Veterans struggling to find a job get...

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Veterans who are having a hard time finding a job caught a little bit of a break Friday.

The state-sponsored popular "Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet" Job and Resource fair was in Santa Maria once again, bringing together veterans seeking employment and employers with job openings for the individuals.

KCOY 12 Central Coast News dove deeper into the challenges veterans have when looking for a job.

Reporter Sean Larsen asked The California Employment Development Department about whether it's more difficult for veterans to find a job compared to the larger public and the types of skills veterans can bring to an employer.

On Friday, the California Employment Development Department hosted the free job fair at the Veterans Memorial Building for the second time since its inception in the city.

The event is targeted at veterans, although it was open to the public.

Lompoc native Ashly Lawshea is fresh out of the Army.

"(Seeing) what I can get myself back into after serving our country," veteran Ashly Lawshea said.

Lawshea served our country for 14 years with stints in Texas, North Carolina, Germany, Korea and Afghanistan.

"Came back to be around family and raise my kids back home here in California," Lawshea said.

This move and transition from military life to civilian life can be an obstacle for some veterans.

"That has been one of my struggles, readjusting, readjusting to not being told what to do, what to wear, so sometimes it can take a toll on a veteran," Lawshea said.

"Just looking for a job," veteran Steven Calleiro said.

32-year-old Air Force veteran Steven Calleiro has been out of work since December.

"Honestly I hope I can find the right job that fits what I need," Calleiro said.

Calleiro was deployed twice to Iraq where he was in charge of radio maintenance.

"That's kind of the field I'm looking to get back into, RF Communications," Calleiro said.

He's tried finding his niche in everything from field service work to running his own food truck business.

"Kind of the biggest struggle is like I can have a 5 page resume but if you don't want five pages, you only want two, what am I going to leave off and am I leaving off what you really wanted to hear," Calleiro said.

Mary Navarro-Aldana with the Employment Development Department says some veterans have a harder time finding a job compared to the larger public - and that's where they come in.

"We have so many employers, large employers and small," Mary Navarro-Aldana with the Employment Development Department said.

Navarro-Aldana says veterans can bring leadership, management and team skills to a workplace.

"They've served our country, they've been through a lot and before they left they were our brothers and sisters," Navarro-Aldana said.

"We even have someone here helping veterans fix up their resume," Navarro-Aldana said.

"Just having an employer understand that you know what, this veteran might need us, they might not look the way we want them to look right now but let's help them," Lawshea said.

During the career fair, people were able to learn about job opportunities, meet with potential employers and also learn about benefits and services specifically for veterans.

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