By Donna McCollum
Nacogdoches (KTRE) - Labor Day was always an expected day off for Justin Spangler. Now, the holiday is something different for this veteran just back from Iraq and without a job.
"I wish I could work on Labor Day," Spangler said from his mother's home. He's living there with his family until work is available.
The National Guard reservist isn't alone. "We have in a 12 county area over 1192 active veterans that are seeking work right now," said Teresa Maryska, a veterans employment representatives with the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC).
The military draw down creates challenges for the TVC. Help starts with Maryska, a former navy machinist dedicated to returning veterans.
"We have a lot that are looking for jobs and they've having a hard time in this economy finding jobs," explained Maryska. "We send them e-mails, let them know, ' hey, we're here. Whatever you need come see us. We'll try and help you. ' Resume classes, interview classes. This is all done through the Workforce."
The Texas Veterans Commission has offices in Tyler, Longview, and Lufkin. Location and benefit information can be found at www.tvc.state.tx.us Texas Workforce Solutions also provides guidance for returning veterans.
A lot of returning veterans are on university campuses or junior colleges. It's a good place for a new beginning. A few will show up at military science departments. Most will use their experiences in new careers.
"The people skills that they have and the communication skills that they have, I think, are all things that will be very valuable and attractive to both higher education and institutions and also employers across East Texas," said Lieutenant Colonel Todd Reichert, the Military Science Department chair at Stephen F. Austin State University.
Returning veterans also discover a new set of priorities. Spangler admires a photograph of his daughter hanging on the wall.
"Pretty exciting to see her. She did about a 100 yard dash and jumped a mile in my arms, so that was pretty fun," recalled Spangler. He and his wife also have an infant son.
Understandably, the former oil field worker, now wants to settle down. "I could go out and get another oil rig job, but staying at home is more important now than a big check. You have a lot of time to think about things while you're over there. I'm wanting to stay home more," shared Spangler.
Next week Spangler has two job interviews. Like a good soldier, he's confident.