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Job Hunting Veterans Head To Yonkers

YONKERS, N.Y. – When Kareem Brown was discharged from the United States Navy in 2010, he was left on his own, without a job and wondering what was next.

For nearly 10 months the Yonkers man “pounded the pavement,” searching for full-time employment. He even took courses in security guard work but still, the only job he was able to land a temporary summer position with the U.S. Census Bureau.

Brown’s story isn’t uncommon, many veterans have said, as far too often, servicemen and women return from overseas with very few opportunities.

Statistics agree, showing that male veterans, ages 18 to 24, are hit especially hard. In 2011, the unemployment rate for the young veterans was nearly 30 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor , 12 percent higher than their peers.

And it can be a difficult idea to grasp, many veterans said.

“You’re wondering – I spent all this time working for my country and now there’s nothing out there for me. Who’s got my back?” said Brown, who was finally able to land a job as a health aide after taking courses at Westchester Community College.

In an effort to help struggling veterans, Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway hosted a “Veterans Only Job Fair” Thursday. An estimated couple hundred veterans from New York City and the Hudson Valley came to the four-hour event, circling through the Good Times Room on the casino’s third floor.

There, more than 40 potential employers had set up shop, all with open positions to fill and all ready to hire veterans.

Elmsford’s Denny Edmondson, an Air Force serviceman in the mid-1970s, came to the fair with his son Denny Jr., a Marine Corps veteran. Both men were currently employed but looking for a career upgrade. They admitted they were the fortunate ones.

“There are a lot of vets out there that don’t know what to do,” the elder Edmondson said. “They feel like nobody really cares.”

Sean Kelly, a veteran of the first Gulf War, said he was laid off his job at FedEx earlier this year after injuring his back.  With two kids to support, the Yonkers man said he started to get nervous about how he would provide.

But after securing a few potential leads at the job fair Thursday, he said his prospects are starting to look up.

“Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I think it was my calling to be here. Everything seems to be falling into place.”

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