BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Concern about the large number of veterans going from the front line to the unemployment line was the motivating force behind a job fair in Biloxi. In fact, the unemployment rate for post-September 11 vets is higher than the national average. So Governor Phil Bryant has proclaimed 2013 to be "The Year to Hire Mississippi Veterans."
Frank Johnson recently returned from a two year deployment to Afghanistan. Now the Army Reservist has a new mission: finding a job.
"It's been very hard trying to find a job in my career specialty and trying to get something to support my family," said Johnson.
A series of job fairs called Pledge to Hire Mississippi Heroes is trying help veterans support their families. There are 28,000 post-9/11 veterans who call Mississippi home. Nationally, unemployment is at 7.8 percent. But for those who served in the Global War on Terrorism, it's 10.8 percent.
"These individuals have left their families. They have left their friends to fight to preserve what we hold so dear here at home," said Adam Todd, Governor Job Fair Network of Mississippi Director. "This is one way that we can help those who have helped us year after year who have put their lives on the line for our freedoms at home. It's the least we can do."
Organizers said the companies that participated had to meet certain requirements.
"We have right at 80 organizations here today who are looking to hire," said Todd. "You can't just attend one of these events for PR purposes. You must have an immediate opening or you can use this event to gain applicants for a future hire."
About 900 people attended the job fair in Biloxi. The Governor's office has already held one fair in Jackson and is planning a third in Tupelo in June.