The Hiring Our Heroes job fair for veterans

- Going overseas, risking your life and serving your country should earn veterans a support system from all of us, but that’s too often not the case.

Some vets find themselves unemployed after their service and facing dark times.

“I served in Vietnam, Navy,” Timothy Goins said.

“In Iraq, two tours and I got injured on my last tour,” Darryl Fletcher explained.

“You’ve been to Afghanistan and Iraq?” Bill Anderson asked Joseph Faulkner.

“Yes, sir,” he responded.

These veterans are our neighbors and Tuesday, they some help looking for a way to support themselves and their families.

They served our country and in some circumstances they were willing to sacrifice their lives to protect ours. So it makes no sense that when veterans return home so many can’t find a job.

Goins told Bill, “I have been out of work for a while.”

But at the Wells Fargo Center, folks are showing their support and appreciation, and offering opportunities with a job fair -- encouraging employers to hire our heroes.

“It’s a real challenge. How do you translate those great military skill sets so that employers can understand them?” Eric Eversole wondered.

It was a challenge that nearly 100 employers took on, interviewing veterans, offering some jobs on the spot, and others immediate feedback.

Job fairs aren’t really that unusual for people seeking work but the president of Hiring Our Heroes told Bill it’s especially important that veterans get face-to-face meetings.

“Help them translate their skills and put them in terms civilians understand,” Eversole explained. “That’s one of the biggest challenges they’ll face. It’s hard to show leadership on a resume.”

Walking the halls of the job fair, meeting employers and job seekers was both encouraging and honestly a little sad. Bill met many young recent vets who are still excited about the opportunities waiting for them as they transition out of the military.

“Coming back and seeing how everything runs, and seeing it’s not going to be that big of a transition after all,” Mark Norton noted.

Some -- a little older – were still optimistic but aware the job hunt may be challenging.

 “It’s a bit intimidating because it’s like you’re starting back over again at square one looking for a job,” Joseph Faulkner felt.

And older veterans, like many others,  still need to work and wonder if their years of service still have any value.

“How old are you sir?” Bill asked.

“Sixty-three,” Goins answered. “I guess my age, and though I have the physical capabilities and I’m skilled in a few areas. It’s just difficult.”

The Hiring Our Heroes job fair did offer a lot of encouragement and the opportunity for the veterans to get the time they need with employers appreciative of their service and aware their life skills may be more important than just what appears on their resume.

“It’s really hard from a resume perspective to see the tremendous qualities and leadership that service members possess or veterans possess. It’s that connection, that personal connection, that really breaks down barriers for them,” Eversole revealed.

At the end of the day -- despite obstacles of age, injury or lack of work experience -- the veterans Bill spoke to proved it to be true: They deserve a chance because they won’t give up.

“For me I feel like something’s gonna come through,” Goins said.

“I’m very encouraged I’m motivated and happy to be here,” Norton agreed.

“I’m always encouraged, never frustrated because I know where my faith lies,” Fletcher explained.

For Goodness Sake, I’m Bill Anderson.

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