By Briana Vannozzi
Landing positions in the civilian workforce has become an all too common problem for our veterans returning home.
“It’s been very difficult transitioning from the structure I knew in the military to whatever is out here,” said navy veteran Heather Flaa
Flaa was an aviation specialist for five years in the navy but hasn’t had much success translating those skills.
“So before I came here today I was ready to have an interview with Arby’s, employment is employment,” said Flaa.
Hundreds of vets attended today’s G.I. Go Fund south Jersey veterans job fair, where they got to meet with 65 potential employers.
“These men and women put their lives on hold. They pressed pause for us for the last 10-15 years, the best way for us to help them press play and start their lives over again is to get out there and provide them with job training,” said G.I. Go Fund Executive Director Ack Fanous
“I know that in Veterans Haven I’ve watched guys, the ex-soldiers the vets put in applications over and over again and be denied,” said Army veteran Bernadine Williams.
In fact according to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2013 the national unemployment rate for veterans was 6.6 percent while New Jersey leads the nation with the highest at 10.8 percent.
“What’s hard is that a lot of times the certificates we get in the military are only good in the military. So when you come home you have to take those certificates and apply them to civilian life,” said Navy veteran Andy Herreros.
Herreros was once one of these job seekers before a small tech company took him under their wing. Now he’s back to help others navigate.
“When you come out of the military you’re about business, you’re not about fooling around and they liked that about me so they picked me right up” said Herreros.
The vow to hire heroes tax credit is now giving companies an added incentive, up to $9,600 for every veteran they hire.
“Many of these military men and women didn’t go to college they enlisted right in the military right after high school,” said Fanous.
In addition to bringing in the companies willing to take on skilled workers without college degrees, the fair also brings in vendors like Suiting Warriors to help vets look and feel the part.
G.I. Go Fund hosts about four to five job fairs every year.