JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A job fair downtown Friday not only had job openings for the veterans and military spouses, but a special guest speaker: Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.
It was a packed house at the Prime Osborn Center over 60 companies looking to hire veterans.
Veterans like J.D. McKinney, who was in the Navy for 30 years and is looking for a new career to apply the skills he learned in the military.
"When I came into the military we didn't have computers, and now everything is electronic," McKinney said. "So you don't go to a place of business and fill out in an application and they'll say, 'I'll call you.' It's all electronic, and sometimes it can be frustrating."
Which is why McKinney came to the job fair to actually meet people who work for the companies. McKinney says the transition into civilian life after 30 years in the Navy is challenging.
"Trying to find a job becomes a whole new career," McKinney said.
Secretary Mabus says it shouldn't be that way.
"It doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't have to be difficult. We can make it better," Mabus said. "It's important because they have answered every call. They have met every mission that we've asked of them, particularly over the last decade when we've been in the longest wars for American history.
Mabus said injured veterans need jobs, too.
"Our wounded warriors have not only shown that skill, that dedication, but they've shown that skill that dedication, but they've shown the ability to overcome adversity," Mabus said. "They are wounded; they are not damaged."
Overall, the veterans we spoke with are looking forward to the future and are happy the city of Jacksonville gave them this opportunity.
"It means a lot," said Tia Osborne, who served six years in the Army. "It means that people in the community still care, that when we come home, it's a little harder for us to adapt."
Any veteran who missed the job fair can visit coj.net or call 904-630-CITY.