BUFFALO, NY - Soldiers who fight for our freedom overseas come home to a new battle - finding a job.
In fact, 19.1 percent of young veterans between the ages of 20-24 are unemployed. That was the case for Williamsville native Eric Chiazza.
The 23-year-old Marine veteran was deployed three times in four years. He did tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Haiti. Once returning home to Buffalo, Chiazza struggled to find a job that fit his unique skill set and paid enough to cover his bills.
"When you get out of the military, you're kind of on your own... It's kind of scary, and I was worried that based on the job choice I had, that my job choices were limited and that it would be difficult to find one," Chiazza said.
2 On Your Side wanted to help.
During the first week of June, Chiazza was featured in a story about veterans struggling to find work. He shared his frustrations about how he was unable to find a well paying job in Western New York.
Later that week, Chiazza attended the "Hire Our Heroes" job fair sponsored by 2 On Your Side. The event brought over 60 employers from all over Western New York together to help veterans and military spouses find jobs. Chiazza applied at a few different places, but nothing clicked.
Meanwhile, David Jones, Regional Vice President of Executive AirShare, was watching the night that Chiazza's story aired and wanted to do help. He attended the job fair in hopes of finding Chiazza, but the two didn't connect. Jones decided to contact 2 On Your Side, and was put in touch with Chiazza to set up a job interview.
"The timing was right on the money. I saw the interview with Eric and it was great because he was Marine Corps trained," Jones said.
Executive AirShare is a company that specializes in fractional jet ownership, which is essentially timeshares for private jets. The company is currently expanding and had a job opening that was perfect for Chiazza.
Chiazza's main job in the military was fueling helicopters. He had offers for similar positions here, but none of them paid well enough. He interviewed with Jones for Line Service Technician position which involves fueling the planes, maintaining the hangar, and assisting with customer service.
"He had made mention of wanting to stay in that field... he had the exact set of skills that I needed for this position," Jones said.
Jones said he hires veterans because they are always well qualified, disciplined, and have great attention to detail. After the interview with Chiazza, he knew it would be a great fit.
"You can just tell. From the word go. He's very professional, what he did in the service was really a great training ground for getting into this environment," Jones said.
Chiazza couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity, and wants to assure his new boss that this Marine won't let him down.
"I'm going to work very, very hard for him, and I'm going to make this company better. I'm going to make it more productive, more efficient, and I know I'm going to do this because I've proven myself in the military. I'm just going to carry those skills to this place here, and David Jones will appreciate reaching out to me," Chiazza said.