Veterans job fair draws hundreds

- The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan produced a new generation of veterans. Some of them were wounded physically and mentally. Now they have to transition to civilian life.

Thursday, Disabled American Veterans sponsored a job fair at Amalie Arena where nearly 100 companies set up tables to talk with job-seeking veterans and their spouses.

DAV volunteer Brenda Reed says she loves events like this.

"Helping other veterans to realize you're out of the service, there are changes you have to go through, but you can do it," says Reed.

Many here don't notice that she's wearing a prosthetic device. she lost her foot, the result of a training injury when she was in the army. She has special insight into the injuries suffered in recent wars, many caused by I-E-D's.

"Now with medical technology, people lose legs up to the pelvic area, we save their lives and they are able to be fitted with some sort of prosthetic," says Reed. 

Veterans suffer other injuries that aren't visible, like P-T-S-D. There has been a stigma associated with it.

"Five to eight years ago I think employers were leery about hiring veterans, but I think the education process is in full swing now," says Rob Lougge of DAV.

Many companies who've hired veterans send them to events like this to recruit veterans.

"It speaks right to them at that level," says Shawn Flanders, who is here recruiting for Colonial Life. I asked one of the organizers "Is it patriotic to hire Veterans?' "It is," says Robert Walker of  Recruit Military. "But at the end of the day, I tell people don't feel sorry for me because I'm a veteran, hire me because I'm qualified." 

Many here were both qualified and inspired.

"If I can do it, you can do it," says Reed just before she shook hands with another job-seeker. For more information visit https://www.dav.org/veterans/employment-resources/us/

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