Veterans job fair held in Sarasota

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- The employment rate for post 9-11 veterans stood at 9% last year—a statistic much worse than the overall jobless rate. Such numbers highlight the need to match up employers with highly skilled veterans.

As part of a statewide effort to help our military veterans find work, a job fair was held in Sarasota today.

To help veterans and their families transition from military service to the workforce, around thirty employers were set up at the Florida National Guard Armory, taking applications.

CareerSource Suncoast hosted the event as an initiative of "Paycheck for Patriots". Last year was the inaugural event in Florida, with ten different locations. This year it has expanded to fourteen locations.

"I recently separated from the army and am just getting out here to look for employment and what's available," explained US veteran Luke Ford.

Ford is one of the many veterans in this area that is taking advantage of this job fair. Luke and many others had time to prepare for interviews on site.

"We did really explosive marketing for this event so they would know about it ahead of time, so they would be able to meet with these employers, bring resumes and be job-ready at the same time."

Veteran Jeffrey Downing brought his resume and has a wide range of qualifications for positions he's applying for. "I was self-employed until 2001 as a photographer. I ran my own photo studio, but in the army I’m a logistician, supply chain management, warehousing distribution, inventory control."

More than twenty employers were set up at the fair, some looking to fill positions on the spot. All of these jobs also cover a wide geographical range.

"We have businesses that span from Manatee County all the way down to South County in Sarasota and a few businesses from the Venice area."

A few of these employers are also veterans, and make it a point to seek out veterans for employment.

"I've been employing veterans from day one. I’ve also been doing heating and air conditioning in this town for 22 years and I’ve always hired veterans whenever I possibly could."

Dina Marie Cochi, recruiter for the Shared Services Center of Sarasota is also a veteran. She stressed how important it is to have this event here now—and in the future.

"We need to give back to the veterans; we need to let them know that we're here for them. We understand the skills and the services and skills that our veterans can bring."