TX Veterans Commission hopes Lufkin job fair will put vets to work

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The 'Hiring Red, White and You' Job Fair is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thusday at the Pitser Garrison Civic Center in Lufkin. Workforce Solutions Deep East Texas is the host.

Veterans are encouraged to attend to receive important information about jobs avaiable in the East Texas area. Employers are welcomed to learn about a new training program on hiring the veteran. It's a win-win event.

Today Veteran's Day is celebrated as a national holiday, but for thousands of veterans. It happens while they're out of work.

Unemployed veterans make up almost 8% of the nation's unemployment rate. Efforts are under way this week to put veterans back to work.

Richard Runnels, a retired Army veteran and a disabled veterans outreach specialist, served in Iraq and Afghanistan. After retirement, landing a job wasn't easy.

"No, it is actually pretty hard," Runnels said. "I was worried."

Ironically, Runnels got a job with the Texas Veterans Commission, the very agency trying to find him a job. He's a disabled veterans outreach specialist. He meets one on one with each veteran entering the door.

"Every single one of them," Runnels said. "Every single one. Everyone of us have a story to share with each other and that's the best part about the job, I think."

Across the aisle, Teresa Mryska, a veterans employment representative, checks her computer each morning to see the latest job postings. Each one comes with a two-day hold for veterans only.

"It's 12 counties and there are probably at least a thousand, if not more, that are looking for work," Myrska said. "Now, that doesn't mean all of them are out of work. Some of them might have minimum-wage jobs and they're still in the system because they want to get a better paying job."

On Thursday, a veterans job fair will bring 33 potential employers front and center for the veteran's benefit. In addition, several veteran agencies will be present.

"We suggest you get there early, so you can get your resumes and applications fill out as soon as possible," Mryska said.

Counseling, free interview suits, and a host of other services are available, making it easier for veterans to follow Runnels' advice.

"There's a thing they used to say in the military, you know, 'There ain't no discharge on the ground,'" Runnels said. "What that tells us is you got a long way ahead of you. There's no point looking down. Keep your head up and keep looking forward and drive for that goal because you're going to find it."

Copyright 2012 KTRE. All rights reserved.