Veterans get hiring boost from national group

05/13/14 Janelle Irwin
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Tags: veterans, military, Hiring our Heroes, Chamber of Commerce, jobs


Veterans chat with local employers in search of civilian jobs.

photo by Janelle Irwin

Military veterans and their spouses looking for a job had a chance to get face to face with Tampa Bay area employers Tuesday at a job fair in Temple Terrace.

“Their agreement basically reads that they’re expected to bring 3-4 jobs per employer.”

That’s Ernie Lombardi, Southeast regional associate for the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation that hosts Hiring our Heroes job fairs in cities across the U.S.

“Nationally, we’re seeing anywhere from 12-15% of some type of hires are made at our events.”

As the 3-hour job fair wound down, Lombardi said more than 100 veterans had already made their rounds to prospective employers. Those ranged anywhere from hotel and service industry jobs to law enforcement to banking and finance.

“So, we’ve got everything from entry levels to upper management positions.”

Lombardi said the group also teaches veterans transitioning into civilian life how to use their military skills to find a job outside the military.

“If you tell a civilian employee that you’re an operation specialist, in the military that covers a lot of ground. But if you tell a civilian employer that you’re an operations specialist, they have to really think about what’s going to be the best fit for what their needs are on the operations side because the military operations specialist does a variety of things under that umbrella.”

Veterans face a host of challenges when making the transition from military to civilian. Many combat veterans struggle with PTSD or other combat-related illnesses. But they do leave the military with skills. It’s figuring out how to use an IT post in, say, the Coast Guard to enter a career in networking or computers that can be the trouble. Brig Medina is a retired Navy Veteran and single dad. His IT job description isn’t likely to pop up on a company’s website.

“Radio communication for me was between line of sight communications and satellite communications so that your personnel on the ground and personnel in the air and on ships or ship board or water can all communicate with each other via voice or even networking – sending over information or documents.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation launched a campaign in 2012 to hire a half million veterans and military spouses by the end of this year. The group is about halfway to that goal. More in formation is on the group's website.

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