Making the transition from military life to the civilian workforce is not always easy.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is trying to make that shift smoother for veterans and their spouses with the Hiring Our Heroes job fair.
“The goal is to really bridge that divide between veterans and military spouses and employers,” said Bryan Goettel, Director of Communications for the Hiring Our Heroes program. “This isn’t a charity.”
The job fair will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at Savannah Rapids Pavilion, 3300 Evans to Locks Road in Martinez. An employment workshop to include résumé-writing, interviewing skills, translating military skills into civilian jobs and navigating job fairs will be held at 9 a.m.
The free event is open to all military veterans and their spouses.
More than 65 employers are expected at the fair, including CSX, Wal-Mart, Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, Verizon, Columbia County Board of Education, ET Consulting Engineers, University of Phoenix, Hyundai and McDonalds.
“We try to get a pretty broad cross-section of industries,” Goettel said.
Jerry Baker, of the Georgia Department of Labor’s Augusta Career Center, said young veterans make up the largest unemployed population.
“Those ages 18-28, just coming out of the military, they are the highest unemployment category,” Baker said.
Veterans sometimes struggle with the transition from military to civilian careers, he said, especially those who have spent many years in the military.
“For the veterans, being able to articulate the skills and experience that they have (is troublesome),” Goettel said.
The chamber has organized nearly 650 similar job fairs since the Hiring Our Heroes program began in March 2011 including the first one in Martinez in January. They are designed to allow veterans to showcase their skills. Employers often look for characteristics most veterans have, including leadership, punctuality, reliability, efficiency and a good work ethic.
“Being able to understand the great qualities veterans and spouses bring to the table” is crucial, Goettel said.
Since Hiring Our Heroes started, more than 21,600 veterans and spouses were hired. And through the Hiring 500,000 Heroes campaign, the chamber is aiming to commit to hire half a million veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014. Goettel said more than 1,500 companies have committed to hiring 280 veterans and military spouses by the end of next year.
“That’s a testament to what veterans and military spouses bring to the workplace,” Goettel said.
The job fair is a partnership between the national chamber, the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, the Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Legion, Columbia County Rental Facilities and Venues, the Georgia Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, WAGT NBC-26, and other local partners.
The job fair and employment workshop are free and open to veterans and military spouses.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 463-5807.