PARKERSBURG - A job fair aimed at helping military veterans and servicemembers was held Tuesday at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.
About 132 people registered for the Hiring Our Heroes Job Fair Tuesday in the multipurpose room at WVU-P, said event coordinator David Bush with Employers Support of the Guard and Reserve.
The free job fair was open to veterans, members of the Guard and Reserve, servicemembers serving and eligible spouses. About 65 local, statewide and national employers participated in the event, along with a variety of service agencies, talking about employment opportunities and services available.
Photo by Wayne Towner
West Virginia University at Parkersburg was host of the Hiring Our Heroes Job Fair on Tuesday, which was aimed at helping military veterans and servicemembers connect with employment opportunities. More than 130 people registered for the event, which included 65 local, state and national employers.
Army veteran Dallas Rhodes of Parkersburg was among those attending Tuesday's event.
"I thought it was pretty cool. There's some interesting stuff to help people out. I got a lot of information and a lot of different variety," he said, adding he would like to see more such events.
Bush was pleased with Tuesday's event and said the turnout from jobseekers and employers exceeded the organizers' expectations.
Tuesday's event and similar job fairs across the country have grown out of efforts by the Department of Defense, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others to help returning servicemembers and others find jobs in their communities, Bush said. In West Virginia, participating agencies and groups formed the West Virginia Military Connection, which has developed a website called www.wvmilitaryconnection.org which provides information and services.
Bush said when the hiring program started, it was a little outside what he was used to. The ESRG traditionally mediates employment issues with employers for people coming back from deployments, not job placement. However, there are lot of resources available in West Virginia that can help so the focus has been bringing those together and creating connections, he said.
"For the first time in West Virginia, all of the people who serve people connected to the military are now working together, sitting down at the table, looking each other in the eye and saying 'How can we do this better,'" Bush said.
Nationally, such efforts have resulted in the creation of a new website called h2h.jobs where military members can register, create a profile and generate a resume and look at job openings, Bush said. Employers interested in recruiting military members can also use the site to find resumes and make contact.
While similar job fairs have been held around the country, Bush said Tuesday's event at WVU-P was the first of the type in West Virginia and he was pleased with the turnout among registrants and employers. Smaller events have been held in Charleston, Beckley and Morgantown and more are planned, he said.
Kevin Grose, human resources specialist at DuPont Washington Works, said Tuesday's job fair was a great event for the local plant.
"The type of folks that we've seen from the military, they have the discipline and the skill-sets we're really looking for," he said. "Currently, we're hiring for maintenance and electrical and instrumentation mechanics and we've seen a lot of folks that have that experience that come from the military. We're really impressed with the quality of folks that we've seen come through here today."
Emily Munoz, Eastern Regional Associate for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Hiring Our Heroes program, said events like the job fair are important.
"Whether or not people are matched with jobs at these fairs, what they are given is a sense that there is hope out there, there are opportunities and people do care and we haven't forgotten them. I don't think there's anything more important for returning veterans than that," she said.