KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A massive initiative to help military veterans find work occurred throughout Tennessee on Thursday.
It's called 'Paychecks for Patriots' and thirteen career centers across the state held career fairs, including one in Knoxville.
"Our men and women that have served in uniform are the most deserving citizens of this state, so to know that some of them have come back and found themselves unemployed is heartbreaking," stated Department of Veterans' Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder.
At the Knoxville event, employers set up shop, hoping to find a veteran to be their newest hire.
"They make great employees. If you think about it, they are taught from the very time they go to basic training about how important teamwork is, because lives depend on it. They've also gone through leadership training, they're extremely reliable, they can work under pressure," added Commissioner Grinder.
Thursday's career fair was not a job fair, it was a hiring fair. That means veterans didn't just drop off their resumes and hope for phone calls. They could even have been hired before leaving the fair.
"It's a pretty good feeling to know that your service is appreciated and that all that training doesn't go to waste," said veteran Ken Nedbal.
Not every veteran was looking to start a new job right away.
"I have one more semester and then I'll be ready to go into the marketplace, so right now, I'm just trying to see what's out there and see what employers might be looking for our skill set," added Nedbal.
But the career fair gave veterans a fresh start, whether they want a job immediately or a few months down the line.
"For them to come back after serving in the military, they may not know how to translate those skills into something that's going to be marketable for them in a civilian job," said Commissioner Grinder.
Commissioner Grinder also told 6 News that part of the problem for
veterans looking for work is that their military certifications don't
always transition well into civilian work.
She said her office is
working to put legislation in place to help better translate those
209 veterans and 76 non-veterans turned out for the Knoxville fair.
Paychecks for Patriots was a partnership of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Dollar General.