James Washington, a retired Army sergeant, started his job hunt two months ago when he left Fort Gordon after eight years of service. He was among hundreds of other veterans at a job fair in Martinez on Tuesday.
“It’s easier than I thought it would be, but it’s still a process transitioning out of the Army into the civilian world,” Washington said. “It’s a stressful process.”
Both he and his friend, David Mack, spent the first half of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes job fair dropping off resumes at several employer booths, including Janus, Spherion Staffing Services and Lockheed Martin.
This was Washington’s sixth job fair in two months. He hopes to stay in Augusta with his young children.
“Just being here is motivation in itself,” he said. “You kind of feel that appreciation that you don’t get at a normal job fair.”
More than 40 employers had set up booths and offered an estimated 200 jobs to veterans and their spouses in the Augusta area, said Ernie Lombardi, the chamber’s Hiring our Heroes associate for the Southeastern Region.
By the first two hours, more than 400 people came to the job fair at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion, Lombardi said.
The chamber holds similar veteran-centered job fairs across the nation. The goal of the program is to find employment for 500,000 veterans and spouses by the end of 2014.
“I was excited when I saw the line out the door,” said Columbia County School System Transportation Director Dewayne Porter. “At the same time, I was kind of sad because there’s that many people possibly out of work.”
Porter had five bus driving positions available but resumes were being accepted for each department in the school system.
Within the first hour of the job fair starting, about 200 people had stopped by his booth, Porter said.
Veterans generally make good employees because they’re both responsible and prompt, said ADP Project Manager Michael Anderson.
“For the jobs that we have open, military people are a good fit,” said Anderson, whose company was looking to hire 50 people locally and had already secured seven interviews for project managers.