From the war zone to the work force

FRESNO, Calif.

The VFW building in Madera is a long way from the battlefields overseas, but veteran Charlie Rattley hopes this job and resource fair can help bridge the gap. He said, "I've been in the military for 13 years, and I've done numerous deployments form Iraq to Africa, back to Iraq."

Rattley has been out of the service since April and says finding a job has been difficult despite his skills. He said, "I'm actually looking for a job in logistics field because that's the job I fielded in the military, but I'm willing to take on anything right now."

The Madera County veterans employment committee knows the transition can be challenging, and that's why officials hosted this event for veterans, national guard troops, and reservists returning from active duty.

Charles Hunnicutt said, "To help them connect them to employers in the county and also with veterans benefits, other agencies are here to help them out."

A variety of employers attended the event, including two federal prisons, a local winery, and the US Department of Agriculture.

"We know the qualities and skills veterans bring," Rose Aguayo said. "So we're here recruiting and trying to find good qualified people, which we know veterans are."

Rose Aguayo is a veteran herself, who served 22 years in the US Army. She says the current economy makes it even tougher for service members to find civilian work. But she and others at this fair are proud to help.

Teri Mason said, "One thing that I really like with this event is we go out to the veterans instead of waiting for the veterans to come to us."

Rattley added, "It means a lot, it's very welcoming, and I appreciate everything, any job fairs going for us."

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