It's been two years since Marvin Bailey, a former marine, has collected a paycheck. Laid off from his job as a trainer for mentally handicapped kids and adults, the 61-year-old says he's also fighting a younger generation for the precious positions that are available.
Bailey is just one of the hundreds of unemployed veterans expected to drop by the job fair being held just for them. Some of those who've proudly fought on the front lines are now fighting just to keep a roof over their heads. It's a problem District officials are trying to tackle head on by bringing together sixty potential employers from the government, nonprofit and private sectors.
City officials say there are roughly 6,000 unemployed veterans in D.C. alone, and with the Iraq troop drawdown that President Obama announced just last week, that number is only expected to climb.
"These men and women coming home are probably one of the strongest resources we have in this country today,” said John Garcia of the Department of Veterans Affairs. “They're trained, they understand mission, accomplish, and I think its they've earned the right to be on the front lines for employment.”
But it's been the unemployment line Michelle Elliott’s been dealing with. A single mom who served four years in the army, she's taking as many temp jobs as she can to make ends meet. But she's shocked at how hard it's been to find someone willing to take a chance on a soldier willing to pay the ultimate price.
"Hey I was in the army, I could get a job in like five, six months,” Elliott said. “No, it’s not that easy, not that easy. But I'm still looking, so we'll see how today goes.”