How veterans can get career during the pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Veterans Day 2020 was a difficult occasion for some former military members who have been hit hard during the pandemic.

Houston native Allan Sabillon enjoys time to play with his daughter, an activity he earned after serving our country.

"I'm a U.S. Navy veteran," Sabillon said. "I was a submarine mechanic. I did three deployments on fast attack submarine."

After serving and earning a degree, he returned to Houston. This Veterans Day, the pandemic kept him away from friends.

But there's time for barbecues. Sabillon spends a lot of hours online.

In August, he lost his oil and gas industry job.

"It was a little unexpected, but at the same time, you hope for the best and prepare for the worst," Sabillon said.

Sabillon is getting help from organizations like Combined Arms, which connects vets with employment organizations. Officials said the pandemic has impacted vets, especially those returning from service.

"If they're coming California, Missouri, Virginia and coming back to Texas or Houston right now, they're not going to be able to find a job," Combined Arms CEO John Boerstler explained. "Their unemployment rate is much higher, like around 20 percent."

The organization said the best thing unemployed vets can do is reach out for help. There are groups like Next Op and Workforce Solutions that help vets find jobs, even during the pandemic.

Vets aren't only looking for help with jobs. Boerstler said they've seen a 400% increase in food assistance.

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"We have a huge uptick in the need for financial assistance. Particularly, rental and utility assistance are up from 900 percent from October 2019 to October 2020," Boerstler explained.

Last week, the state held a "Hiring Red, White and You" virtual event. In all, nearly 500 attended.

Sabillon is one of those attending employment events and applying for jobs. While he's confident he'll land one soon, he knows other struggling vets may not be as lucky.

"Reach out for help," Sabillon said. "Don't let that internal war take over you."

To learn more about Combined Arms, click here.

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