NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - NBC is teaming up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help Hire our Heroes.
On Tuesday, they hosted a job fair in Northampton. It was one of hundreds of fairs that have taken place since last year, when the Hiring our Heroes project committed to finding jobs for half a million vets.
“So far today I've met a lot of veterans that are coming in that are unemployed, trying to find a job,” said the Assistant HR Manager at the Leeds VA, Jim Perrault.
And that’s because for post 9/11 veterans jobs are elusive. Federal numbers show that the jobless rate among them remains at 10%. And for those under the age of 25, it's almost three times as high.
Perrault was one of many looking to hire vets at the Hiring our Heroes Job Fair. He says veterans have multiple skills sets.
“People see the military as just going to war and carrying a riffle. They don't understand that within the military there are a lot of different jobs that are done. The military is its own community that has a finance office a business office,” said Perrault inside the Northampton Clarion ballroom.
They also have post offices. Jose Fraga, of Holyoke, served most of his state-side duty as a postal manager in Southern California. On Tuesday, he showed up dressed to impress and eager for an opportunity.
“I'd like to get into a managerial role and I'd also like to train and teach. It's also something the Marine Corp taught me in particular,” said Fraga.
But the biggest challenge among the veteran workforce is their inability to brand and market themselves. Despite the fact that once they get a job, they tend to stay.
Perrault was a former Military Police officer and just celebrated his 19th year at the VA. And Tom Galko worked for 20 years making games at Hasbro before being laid off. He's been looking for a job since May.
“The unemployment office sent me back to school to train me as a medical assistant. The hardest part now is finding someone who will take one somebody fresh out of school,” said Galko of Florence.
In two years, Hiring our Heroes has hired more than 20,000 vets.