Job fair held at Fort Sill works to ‘Hire Our Heroes’ by Mitch Meador Lawton Constitution August 21, 2014 www.swoknews.com
A “Hire Our Heroes” job fair held Wednesday at Fort Sill showed soldiers the myriad possibilities that await them in the civilian world.
There were defense contractors, banks and life insurance companies as was to be expected. But truckers and video game outlets were also part of the mix.
Hire Our Heroes is a nonprofit organization under the umbrella of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, according to Julie Russell, a regional coordinator for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The event had 38 prospective employers wading into the soon-to-be ex-military job pool. Hire Our Heroes has done 770 fairs like this one across the country over the past three years. It began as a grassroots effort in March 2011 and today has 24,000 confirmed hires.
“We had employers with the U.S. chamber who were contacting us trying to connect with veterans to hire. And we knew that there was an unemployment issue, meaning a high unemployment rate, for recent veterans,” Russell said.
Hire Our Heroes partnered with the Private Public Partnership at Fort Sill to put on the event. Shannon Jackson serves as its transition employment liaison.
The event included an employment workshop room where personnel provided tips on rsumes, interviews, how to dress properly, the do’s and don’ts of today’s job market, and how to make the best of the first 30 seconds when meeting someone.
Bill McLennan is CEO of Fastport, which has been asked by the U.S. chamber to leverage its technology to build its trucking industry track for the Hiring Our Heroes website.
“We represent the entire trucking industry, and we’re trying to motivate, educate, inspire and help get hired 50,000 of our finest veterans transitioning from the service and their spouses into great careers with great employers,” McLennan said.
McLennan cited the late J.B. Hunt as an example. Hunt started off with five trucks before seeing service in World War II. He went on to build a transportation giant that earned more than $5 billion in revenue. J.B. Hunt and PGT were physically present at the job fair, but McLennan said there are 12 transportation companies on the website who have pledged to hire veterans.
“The trucking industry needs and values highly the core skills that our nation’s military has. There are great opportunities. It’s a great industry for our service men and women to get into,” McLennan said.
The highest demand is for commercial truck drivers, with diesel mechanics ranking No. 2. Management and supervisory positions are also available. McLennan said veterans have been front-line supervisors who know how to complete a mission, work in a team environment and make good decisions in an uncertain and changing environment. They also know the value of keeping their training and skills current, he added.
Representing GameStop were mentor based at Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Texas, and T.J. Sargent, a training district manager based in Oklahoma City. Though neither has prior military experience, they are looking for what veterans have to offer their 17 stores between Wichita Falls and Oklahoma City.
“Honestly, we’re looking for as many candidates as we can find who have the leadership qualities for assistant store manager or store manager,” Hopper said. The qualities they’re looking for are dedication, loyalty and integrity, he said.
This was the first job fair Sgt.Paulette Cole had ever attend. She is an automated logistics specialist who is exiting the Army after 81⁄2 years of service. She plans to join the Army Reserve while she goes to school. She plans to enroll at Cameron University in the spring and major in criminal justice, as that’s a field in which she’s long been interested. She’d like to transfer to the University of North Carolina at some point, but her husband, Marine Corps and Army veteran Fernando Cole, is currently working here as a computer specialist for Asplundh.
Of the employers at the job fair, she said she was a little interested in New York Life Insurance because of its insurance for retirees and its financial aspect.