SEBRING From 2007 to 2011, Sean Buck had a steady job serving in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, the Marine served a considerable amount of time on the front lines, he recalled Friday.
But upon returning home, Buck has struggled to earn a living, having a job for awhile, but then being laid off.
He was one of a steady stream of unemployed veterans who attended a hiring fair for veterans at Heartland Workforce.
Roger Hood, the executive director of Heartland Workforce, said the event was part of a joint effort by regional workforce boards, state officials and others to try to help veterans and others to find jobs. Dollar General, which coincidentally has a store across Highway 27 from Heartland Workforce, pushed for job fairs for veterans, he said.
“We are very pleased with the turnout,” Hood said.
Rod Weatherell, another veteran who attended the event, said he served in Vietnam and has worked a variety of jobs since then, including being an engineer and a real estate and a travel agent.
But, he said, he now finds himself unemployed and is looking for a new opportunity to make money.
Steve Shipett of Avon Park, who served in the U.S. Army in the middle 1970s, said he‘s looking for a general laborer job. He said he has a part time job, but is looking for a better opportunity.
A previous such job fair led to eight veterans finding jobs, said Ken Willis, veteran’s representative.
Among the employers with job openings at the event was the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office.
“Sure, absolutely,” said Tina Swain, a human services specialist, when asked if the office was interested in hiring veterans. She said openings were for positions, including a cook in the jail, deputy and dispatcher.
Wells Fargo Bank had an opening for part-time teller, said Sharon Chambers, a representative.
Hero 2 Hired, a program that offers to employers job candidates with military experience, was represented during the event.
The job fair was also opened to the general public after veterans got a shot.
Elizabeth Martin, who said she’s been looking for a job as a customer service representative for three years, said such events give her some hope.
“It’s been very frustrating,” she said.