Job fair offers prospects for veterans

Mar. 14, 2013 @ 05:13 PM

Harold Kenney, an experienced mechanic, has been unable to find work for some time.
That’s why the 56-year-old U.S. Army veteran came to a job fair at American Legion Post No. 8 on Thursday to check the possibilities.
“It appears they are looking for drivers and not so much for mechanics,” said the Thomasville resident. “I’m looking for something in industrial maintenance. I’ve been to several of these fairs.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s National Chamber Foundation, the American Legion and other sponsors hosted the Hiring Our Heroes job fair for veterans and military spouses.
Kenney served as an enlisted soldier from 1991-96. He worked in communications technology.
“I volunteered several times to go overseas, but I never got the pleasure to go. I stayed stateside,” he said.
Like many job seekers, Kenney went back to school to get certifications in fields offering better job prospects. Unemployment in Davidson County has been at or near 10 percent for some time.
“I had my own company for a number of years,” Kenney said. “I went back to school to get a diploma in heating and air. It has been an effort to find work, especially being older. There are so many young people out there.”
More than 20 employers booked spots to participate in the fair. Companies ranged from large employers, such as Procter and Gamble, to small Triad companies.
Some employers offer incentives to veterans to take jobs. At CRETE Carrier of Lincoln, Neb., veterans with driving experience can qualify quickly to get  a 3-cent higher mileage compensation, said Judi Shoup, a U.S. Air Force veteran.
“About 40 percent of our 6,000 employees are veterans,” Shoup said. “Our company realizes how important it is to hire veterans. We have a special emblem drivers can put on the truck.”
The company also helps vets to enroll in any training and schooling they may need.
The hiring goal for Hiring Our Heroes is hiring 500,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014.  So far, more than 800 businesses of all sizes have pledged to hire 211,000 veterans toward this goal, with 93,000 hired since March 2012.
“We are here to help the vets, and we’d like to see more companies hire vets,” said Bill Richard, American Legion commander for North Carolina. “It’s a win-win. The vets have a good work ethic, and they have served our country.”

Job Fair

Hiring Our Heroes: Since its launch in March 2011, Hiring Our Heroes has held more than 420 hiring fairs nationwide, helping more than 14,000 veterans and military spouses find employment.