A veteran from Madera says a recent job interview at the Macy's in Fresno's Fashion Fair left her feeling that she wasn't given a fair shot.
After a nearly year-long deployment in Afghanistan 21-year-old Army Specialist Kayla Reyes is back home and still enlisted in the National Guard.
She says she interviewed for a sales associate position on Feb. 20.
Reyes says once she told the hiring manager about her service overseas, the questions came back to Reyes's time at war.
"Being that you've been over there, you wouldn't really know how to approach people," Reyes says that's what the manager told her. She continues, "Once a customer's in your face, you wouldn't know how to do it. You wouldn't know how to react."
Reyes says she left the interview wondering if her military service did her a disservice when applying for a civilian job.
She was surprised at the kind of support she received when her story went viral--thousands of people shared her story on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.
"It kind of shocked me because I'm with her almost every day. I talk to her on a daily basis, and she's the most social person I know," says Justine Williams, Reyes's best friend, in reaction to the response Reyes received at the job interview.
At a Fresno military recruitment office, staff there offers support and help in the transition process from military to civilian jobs.
As Navy veteran Megan Newman describes the kind of support that is available, she says used her military skills to successfully transition into a job in the medical field.
"They set you up to guide employers and see you not just as a member of the military but as someone with transferable experience," Newman says.
Reyes says she told the hiring manager at Macy's that she has relatable retail experience, having worked at Target.
According to Reyes the hiring manager was operating from a misconception about former military personnel.
"She's like, 'Well I've been here 15 years, I know you wouldn't be able to do good here.' She's like, 'There's another job in loss prevention,' and she was like, 'That's what you're good for--that's what you do,'" Reyes says.
Betsy Nelson, vice president of media relations for Macy's in the Northwest region sent a statement that reads in full, "Employing veterans is a priority at Macy's, and we have proudly hired thousands to work within our stores and corporate organization. Our commitment to veterans is strong, as we recognize that veterans possess leadership skills that we find are essential in a dynamic department store environment. Ms. Reyes' application for a position with Macy's is, in fact, still under consideration as we continue to consider the types of retail jobs that may be available. We are actively looking for an appropriate open position that would be best suited for her skills and experience level, as we do with all prospective employees."
Reyes says she has decided to go in another direction and has accepted a job with the California Department Of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
For a link to websites that provide resources and support for veterans, follow this link: http://www.yourcentralvalley.com/story/d/story/veterans-resources/95536/1vMYlelmT0KzEssrwaQ2UA