More than 200 veterans - including more than a dozen Wisconsin Employment Resource Connection (WERC) participants - and approximately 70 employers were brought together Jan. 16 at the Goodwill James O. Wright Center on Milwaukee's northwest side for a recent "Hiring Our Heroes" job fair.
According to Capt. Joseph Ledger, the employment assistance program manager with WERC, the job fair allowed WERC participants to meet with employers in a professional manner, submit resumes and use their "30-second elevator speech" - a self-marketing technique designed to improve their chances of being hired.
"Veterans make great employees," said Reggie Newsome, secretary of the state Department of Workforce Development. "They typically have skills in operating very sophisticated equipment, and with their discipline and strong work ethic they can quickly contribute as team players to the success of a business."
The Department of Workforce Development and the state Department of Veterans Affairs were event co-sponsors.
"We thank the employers who have made a commitment to hiring veterans, and organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who bring together employers with veterans who are seeking employment," said John Scocos, Department of Veterans Affairs secretary. "Helping those who have served our country gain access to quality jobs is good not only for the veteran, their family and their community, but it is also good for the businesses and organizations employing them."
Preliminary exit surveys indicated that more than 1,000 resumes were collected, more than 100 interviews were conducted, and 19 jobs were offered.
"The hope is that many other jobs will follow from this event," Ledger said.
WERC is a free resource operated by the Wisconsin National Guard's Service Member Support Division, available to all service members and spouses in Wisconsin. The Department of Workforce Development's Office of Veterans Services provided employment and training assistance to more than 7,700 newly registered veterans last year. The state Department of Veterans Affairs will host seven symposiums around the state to educate public and private employers on hiring veterans.
The "Hiring Our Heroes" job fair in Milwaukee was one of more than 650 conducted nationally since the U.S. Chamber of Commerce began the program in 2011.
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development contributed to this report.