State helping local vets with 'Paychecks for Patriots' - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

State helping local vets with 'Paychecks for Patriots'

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Some of Tennessee's most prominent employers are joining forces to help veterans get back to work. The campaign is called "Paychecks for Patriots."

Governor Haslam signed a proclamation declaring Thursday as a day to help connect local veterans with jobs. Thirteen career centers across the state held a job fair targeted at helping both unemployed and under-employed military vets.

"We're just very excited to have the opportunity to do this for our veterans," says Andrea Witt with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

As part of a statewide push, Chattanooga employers like Volkswagen and TVA jumped at the chance to help local veterans find work. The Paychecks for Patriots initiative is designed to not only connect vets with employers, but also provide them with the resources to get them hired.

"The veterans come out with all kinds of wonderful skills, but they don't always know how to get that skill out there to the employer for them to be aware of what that skill is," says Witt.

And that's where Witt says the Department of Labor and Workforce Development steps in. It offers everything from resume workshops to practice interviews, something veterans and the everyday person can take advantage of.

"A lot of people that walk through the career center are not unemployed, they're just under-employed," says Witt.

It's a scenario all to familiar to Marine Corps veteran Michael Gentry from Polk County. "I work part time right now and I'm looking for a full time job. I have two small children and they just deserve better," says Gentry.

He and other vets say it can be a challenge making the transition back to civilian life. "It's hard to find you place and to find just direction in life, to try and settle down and get out of the mentality, you know, you've got to be up at 5 o'clock in the morning everyday, and run until you can't run anymore," he says with a laugh.

"I think the transition too is, not that it's negative, it's just a big change from a military structured environment," says Rebekah Nance.

A 14-year member of the military, and recently unemployed, she says job fairs like this one can make all the difference. "It really means a lot to have this opportunity because so many of us aren't aware of these situations or don't know how to get our foot in the door," she says.

Close to 200 people showed up for the job fair. The career center wants to emphasize it doesn't get you hired, it just provides the resources to help. And it's all free to use.

The center is located in the Eastgate shopping complex off Brainerd Road.

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