Austin to Honor Those Who’ve Served in Iraq

Austin will commemorate the end of the Iraq War with a parade down Congress Avenue on July 7.  After the parade, there will be a job and resource fair for veterans inside the Capitol Building.

One veteran with multiple tours in Iraq says that’s important.

“I’m really happy that we’re having this job and resource fair because it can really provide a lot to service members. When you get out, a good support group is probably one of the best things you have, because when you’re in the army, you’re a team, and when you get out, you’re an individual again,” said U.S. Army veteran Marco Orrantia.

The April unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans nationally was at 9.2 percent. That compares to 7.6 percent for non-veterans.

The event is co-sponsored by the Welcome Home Iraq Veterans Committee, a recently formed group of Austin-area citizens that pitched the idea to the city.

Committee chair Conor Kenny says the idea for having an Iraq veterans parade began over drinks at Opal Divine’s on West Sixth Street, when someone mentioned that St. Louis had held such an event. At a press conference yesterday, Kenny recounted his reaction: “If St. Louis can do it, why the heck can’t we?”

The committee is still raising funds for the event, and is seeking marching bands and color guards to participate in the parade. The group is accepting donations at its website.

The Iraq War technically ended on December 15, 2011.