CLEVELAND - Anthony Albright served his country in the Army, enlisting in 1989, pulling duty until 1994. Working steadily as a semi-truck driver, he has recently been working for a roofing contractor. Roofing jobs are tough to come by as fall becomes winter, so Albright found himself signing up for a veterans job fair, the Veteran Career Expo, that began at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Albright had an optimistic grin after several promising leads came his way by the time the event ended at 1 p.m. A lot of veterans coming out of the military recently have had a tough time finding work.
"I've been out for quite a while now so I kind of acclimated myself to civilian life, so it's just hard sometimes looking for a job, but I've got high hopes something will come around. I never give up hope, it's going to be there," said Albright.
Most veterans were commenting favorably on an event aimed exclusively for them. Tom Hasson, a Business Service Consultant for Employment Connection, said his company, "coordinates employers to find out what their jobs are, and then we're their point of contact, so we forward resumes and candidates to those employers."
Hasson said that often serving one's country is easier than finding steady work in civilian life.
"I think it's even harder. It's harder when you're out there because it's all on your shoulders and you have to give it all you have," said Hasson.
Ashley Graf is a Navy reservist whom came looking for opportunities that other job fairs wouldn't have tables and booths aimed at her skills. As a veteran who missed the Navy where she served as a flight controller, she signed up for the reserves where she now serves as well as holding down a full-time job in Elyria.
"I currently am employed, but there also booths here that have information on veteran's benefits that help other veterans out, educational things, different schools, this actually offers a wide variety of things besides just employment opportunities. It was actually informational," said Graf.
At 44, Albright was turned away by a fire department table, but with his children grown and living on their own, he and his wife are hoping to add a stable life to being empty-nesters.
"I want just full-time work, stabilize myself, you know, find a career that I enjoy and safely retire some day,
For the hundreds of veterans who found themselves passing out resumes and business cards, Tuesday was one closer step to getting themselves back into the workplace. A job for some of these vets has been elusive. Albright would like to get back to work as a semi-truck driver. He's hoping to re-apply for his C.D.L. with a lead for a job from Tuesday's visit to the Q.
"I'm not here to look for benefits or anything like that. I just want to get a job, start a career and maybe eventually live the American dream and buy a house."