Some Valley Veterans Seek Help with Finding Jobs

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WESLACO – Rio Grande Valley veterans sometimes struggle to find a career once they come back home after their service.

A picture of Javier Arredondo's father on his wall showcases he comes from a long line of military men.

“I was in the Marine Corps from ‘81 to ‘85,” he said.

The veteran followed his father’s footsteps joining at 18 years old, right out of high school. After the Marines, he enlisted in the Army from ‘86 to ’89, the National Guard from ’89 to ’92.

Arredondo has more than a decade of service under his belt.

“I was struggling financially. I fell behind on all bills,” he said.

When he got out of the service, Arredondo couldn’t find a job for a while.

“The world applauds us for our service, but it’s still difficult to get a job because all I had was a high school diploma,” he said.

The veteran said since the 90s not much has changed. He still sees veterans struggling, that’s why he now works at South Texas College. He’s the coordinator of Veteran Recruitment and Engagement.

STC works hand-in-hand with other programs around the Valley to help veterans get the education they need to have lucrative careers.

“It feels awesome, it’s exhilarating, it’s an adrenaline rush because I learned a long time ago if you find a job you love, you’ll never have to work again,” said Jerry Garza, a Texas Veterans Commission Career Advisor.

Garza is also a veteran. He said the Texas Veterans Commission also works with organizations like Workforce Solutions to help veterans find jobs.

Garza helped Arredondo when he walked through the doors of Workforce Solutions 11 years ago.

“I owe my job to him and I know he does send a lot of leads to veterans. There’s jobs available to these guys and they try to look at our military career and they try to match us up with civilian jobs,” Arredondo said.

Workforce Solutions helps veterans with some of the main problems they see like preparing resumes, filling out applications and practicing for interviews. They also assist with the job search.

Veterans with what is considered “significant barriers to employment" like low income, no wages for the last six months, recently separated from the military, released from incarceration, disabled or between the ages of 18 and 24, get special help from Garza. He said sometimes they go back to school.

“I think the veterans know today that it’s very important for them to get a good career going for them,” Arredondo said.

“It’s been good. A new experience for me. First time going to school,” veteran and student at STC Michael Mauricio said.

Mauricio got out of the Marines in January after four years of service. Right now, he’s probably overqualified for the job he’s working.

“Not what I want to do but right now, I’m working at a restaurant, bartending and serving. But I want to go and get a career in criminal justice,” he said.

Thanks to school and career planning, he’s looking ahead to what the future holds for him. He said he hopes to secure a job with the federal government.

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