Recent jobs reports have shown positive gains for military veterans with fewer of them unemployed. Yet, for thousands, the transition from military to civilian work can be extremely difficult.
A job fair isn't necessarily unique, but this one is. It's designed only for veterans and their spouses. It's an event veteran Manesseh Hezekiah has been looking forward to. She's trying to make her way into a civilian lifestyle after 15 years of active duty. She was forced to retire from the military because of a back injury.
"It's been rough. I lost my condo two years ago but I am optimistic. I want to live, I don't want to just exist," Hezekiah said.
While this is the seventh year for this job fair, it is the first time for it to be held in the Elmen Center. The 87 booths simply outgrew the previous location.
This is the first time Tony Rau has attended. He's looking to hire everything from machinists to engineers for Valley Machining of Rock Valley, Iowa.
"There's a lot of documentation in the type of manufacturing that we do and military is very good at documentation and following procedures," Rau said.
For Rau, the skills of those with military experience aren’t the only enticing part of this event. He too is a veteran.
"It catches your eye when you see something like this come along that, yeah, you wish that someone would give you an opportunity based on the service you provided to your country, and yeah, that caught my eye when this came along," Rau said.
He hoped to talk to as many as 100 potential employees. Those looking for a job wanted to do a lot of talking as well.
"I'm ready to work. I'm ready to work and I just want a chance," Hezekiah said.
And that's exactly the goal of the event.
The Veterans and Spouses Job Fair is organized by several veterans groups as well as the South Dakota Department of Labor.