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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Nashua job fair offers veterans resources, a little hope

NASHUA – James Dooley said when it comes to hope, he doesn’t have any.

Dooley, a former U.S. Army tank crewman, wore a kahaki cap and carried a camouflage shoulder bag as he walked around the tables set up at Harbor Homes on High Street in Nashua Wednesday morning during a job and resource fair co-hosted by the organization and Rep. Ann McLane Kuster. ...

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NASHUA – James Dooley said when it comes to hope, he doesn’t have any.

Dooley, a former U.S. Army tank crewman, wore a kahaki cap and carried a camouflage shoulder bag as he walked around the tables set up at Harbor Homes on High Street in Nashua Wednesday morning during a job and resource fair co-hosted by the organization and Rep. Ann McLane Kuster.

“I take my life hour by hour, because everything changes,” said Dooley, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. “It’s the only thing that’s constant.”

“The anxiety, depression – it ain’t easy,” he added. “I’m just trying to get my life back together.”

Employers such as Home Depot, UPS and Fidelity offered information and material in a traditional job fair setting, while targeting local veterans. In addition, local nonprofits set up tables to offer support services and information.

Andrea Reed, program manager for the homeless veterans reintegration grant at Harbor Homes, said she had reached out to Kuster’s office to tell them about the homeless veterans
stand down event Oct. 9. She said both sides wanted to host an earlier event before Kuster returned to Washington. Reed saw potential in putting something on earlier that focused on finding work.

“As much as we promote it, they say the didn’t hear of it,” Reed said. “The day of the Stand Down, there are so many veterans resources that the veterans need that it’s difficult to get employers and resources to be there.”

The October event also features material support, such as free haircuts and clothing.

For Jessica Price, who also works with veterans at Harbor Homes, helping a veteran find a place to live is great, but “How are they going to keep it? If they don’t have a job they are probably going to lose that.”

“There’s a huge need,” said Jon Worall. “And it isn’t like you need help once. You need help forever.”

Worall’s group, Wounded Warriors @45 North, brings veterans to his cabin in Pittsburg to decompress and be around other veterans to share experiences. He is a veteran himself, having been wounded in a roadside bomb attack that left him with a traumatic brain injury. He handed out business cards and pamphlets to the veterans walking by his table.

“Hanging around with other combat veterans, they get to see that these guys are functioning, (and ask) ‘Why can’t I?’ ” he said.

The number of people present at the event was promising, Worall said.

“We see a lot of guys coming in looking for something, employment, housing, direction,” he said.

People like James Dooley.

“Nobody wanted to know us after Desert Storm,” said Dooley, who recalled how many veterans got sick and some attributed their illness to their on-the-ground action. “When it comes to election time, people will bend over backwards to help people, that’s the truth.”

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-6590 or dhimsel@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Himsel on Twitter (@Telegraph_DonH).