They fight for our country protecting our freedom, but when they return from war-torn countries, many veterans have a difficult time finding a job here on the home front.
Now, some Middle Tennessee State University students are doing their part to make sure veterans have access to employers.
Former Marine Kevin Tonsetic, 26, is a non-traditional student at MTSU who got a late start on college because of his military service.
"I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008," Tonsetic said.
Tonsetic is looking for a part-time job to help supplement his G.I. Bill. He's also networking with potential employers before he graduates.
He was one of the lucky ones who was able to land a job right away when returning from war.
"I got a job as fast as I could, which was fairly easily," he said. "My father has worked at a factory for about 10 years now, and with his influence, he was able to help me get a job."
But many of his friends are still having a difficult time finding good-paying jobs.
"A few of my friends, who got out before me, are having to work part-time jobs or at fast-food restaurants, because they can't land a solid, steady job," he said.
Thursday morning, BRAVO, or Blue Raider American Veteran Organization, held a job fair on campus for students in the military, veterans and their families.
"A lot of times they are going on the websites and to interviews, but how do we find a way to get the veterans networked with the companies in order to get them successful careers?" said BRAVO president Malcolm Stallard.
Twenty-two employers, from manufacturing to healthcare, took part in the job fair.
Ed Phillips also attended the job fair. The Army veteran is currently working as a contractor in Alaska but is looking for employment closer to home. The most difficult part, he says, is being away from family.
"I left a 2 1/2-year-old baby boy, so I missed six months of that kid's life," Phillips said. "I also have a 7- and a 9-year-old daughter who hates that daddy is gone."
BRAVO members said they are helping students and veterans succeed at MTSU and in Middle Tennessee, but sometimes that's not always easy.
"It actually is very difficult, because we all get tagged into a pool of just civilians," Stallard said. "A lot people have misconceptions about PTSD and translating military experience into civilian experience."
The student organization holds one job fair for veterans each semester. For more information, visit: http://www.blueraidervets.com/.
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