Unemployed vets find help at Rego Park forum – QNS.com

Unemployed vets find help at Rego Park forum

By Alexander Dworkowitz

Terry Posey, a 42-year-old Ozone Park resident, has struggled with back pain for a long time.

In 1983, he was hit by a truck in an accident at an Army base in the United States, he said. He left the military and has worked only small jobs ever since, struggling to put food on his table and pay the rent.

On Saturday, he showed up at the Lost Battalion Hall in Rego Park in search of more permanent work.

“It's hard for me to stand too long,” Posey admitted in between speaking to potential employers.

Posey was one of hundreds of veterans who attended the Vietnam Veterans of America “Information Day” event at the Lost Battalion Hall.

Despite the name of the group, the VVA's services were open to veterans of all ages. Some who attended fought in World War II, while others had just concluded their service with the military.

Two organizations, the Logan Bus Co. and New York Life Insurance, were offering jobs on the spot.

But the event, now in its 12th year, focused on providing information, not just employment.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was on hand to tell veterans how to obtain lost medals. Representatives of the Social Security Administration discussed benefits. In addition, the state Department of Labor gave advice on how to conduct a job search.

“As a Vietnam veteran, our founding principal is that never again will a generation of veterans abandon another,” said Pat Toro Jr., president of VVA's Queens Chapter 32, based in Glendale.

The organization's work was praised by Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village), who attended the event.

“They are some of the most productive veterans you are going to find anywhere in the United States,” he said.

The event was held in light of a difficult job climate for veterans, Toro said.

The state Department of Labor provides a list to the VVA of unemployed veterans in Queens. Last year the number was 900. But this year the number skyrocketed to nearly 3,000, Toro said.

JoAnn Mazzei of the Logan Bus Co. said her business was hiring anyone with a commercial driver's license.

“Whoever comes in, we're offering them a job,” Mazzei said. “If they don't have a license, we tell them how to get one.”

Reuben Freeman, 53, of St. Albans, said he was considering Logan's offer.

Freeman said he wished more organizations were on hand offering jobs but praised the advice given by representatives from the Department of Labor.

Freeman left his job as a medical technologist at a Brooklyn hospital one year ago.

“I'm looking for a second career. I've got to do something,” he said.

Not everyone who was at the event was unemployed, however.

Sidney George of Richmond Hill came last year and took a job at Logan. He came to offer advice to veterans who were in his position last year.

George said he was unemployed for a year before starting with Logan.

“I was a little desperate at the time. I couldn't find a job nowhere.”

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 141.

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