Army veteran Derik Turner twice went to Iraq on missions to clear roadside bombs.
Now he’s facing a new challenge: finding a job.
“Looking for bombs will keep you on the edge of your seat,” Turner said Wednesday as he networked with potential employers at a job fair hosted by Augusta Warrior Project and Goodwill. While bomb disposal jobs are rare in the civilian sector, Turner is counting on the leadership skills that earned him a rank of sergeant first class to guide him toward a new job.
Unemployment in the 13-county Augusta area stands at 10 percent, compared to 8.9 percent out of work in Georgia, according to the state Labor Department. Nationally, the number of unemployed post-9/11 veterans dropped to 9.5 percent in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
An indicator of the job situation in Augusta was the 200 people lined up outside the door before the job fair got under way at Warren Baptist Church on Washington Road. By noon, 28 vendors ranging from local adult day-cares to national companies such as Home Depot were shaking hands with candidates and handing out applications.
“Our whole mission is to place people in work,” said Susan Everitt, the director of communications for Goodwill.
While the job fair’s focus was on helping veterans, civilians were also welcome to apply. Doc Holliday was hunting for something that could suit his skills in the hospitality business after moving to Augusta from Miami. An associate’s degree in business management would seem like an asset, but Holliday said he’s been called “overqualified” for some jobs and “underqualified” for others.
“I’m stuck in the middle,” Holliday said.