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      Job fair aims to give vets, spouses employment

      Veterans and their spouses can attend a career fair in Columbia on Monday, March 18.

      Military veterans and their spouses will have the opportunity to speak with multiple employers at a job fair on Monday.

      The job fair is the culmination of efforts by multiple agencies, including the National Guard, Division of Workforce and Employer Support of the Guard and Reservce (ESGR).

      Fair organizers hope the vets will be able to find employment and alleviate financial stress after their homecoming.

      "The problem right now, everybody knows, is employment rate...it's pretty high nationwide, approximately around 8 percent. And if you take the military, the guard and reserve, your veterans, that unemployment rate reaches almost double that," Steve Brothers of ESGR said.

      Financial woes and unemployment are only some of the stressors vets face once they leave combat.

      "One of the things the military is currently facing is high suicide rates among service members. And hopefully...if we can take care of some of the financial issues that will help with that," Shams Chughtai, veterans program manager at the Missouri Division of Workforce said.

      Attendees will find a wide array of employers seeking military employees.

      "The Boone County Sheriff's Department looking for people to possibly become police officers, the Department of Corrections, Department of Revenue, several private and civilian employers..." Brothers said of some of the employers attending.

      Both Brothers and Chughtai are veterans themselves, and thus they feel a personal connection to the endeavor.

      "These individuals that we're helping, they're my friends, they're my colleagues, so I see this as almost a personal mission because we have such a close tie with the military," Chughtai said.

      "We're trying to help. And rather than all of us [agencies] work independently, it's better that we all come together collectively and help these service members out," Brothers said.The event will be held on Monday, March 18 at the Columbia Armory. Starting at 7:30 a.m. attendees will get free employment skills training, and the fair starts at 1 p.m.Walk-ins are welcome based on availability.