The American Legion had a strong presence at the inaugural Veterans on Wall Street (VOWS) Conference & Hiring Fair at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City on June 23. The Legion operated two booths at the site of the restored World War II aircraft carrier - one with a representative from the organization's human relations department and another that featured Joe Sharpe, the Legion's Economic Division director, and service officers from the Department of New York.
Veterans who attended the VOWS event got the opportunity to network with representatives from many of the companies and organizations present - some of which were hiring on the spot. Also on hand were officials from each financial institution that comprises VOWS, a conglomeration of five firms - Bank of America, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, and Goldman and Sachs - that aims to help veterans reenter the workforce after their separation from the military. Employees from these firms gave attendees counsel on the job-search process and even took résumés for positions they have open within their corporations.
"The big component is teaching veterans and the (human relations) representatives, what is the value of a veteran and then to teach the veterans how to talk to HR representatives," said Christopher Page, vice president of Citi's risk management department and an event coordinator. "(Veterans) get out and they don't know how to build a résumé, so we help them build a résumé. We help transfer their military skills in order to help them as civilians."
Around 100 companies and organizations were on hand meeting candidates and accepting résumés. The American Legion was among them. A representative from its HR department interviewed candidates and took résumés from veterans who wanted to apply for one of the six open positions for which the Legion was hiring.
Page said organizations like the Legion are essential to VOWS because they have a unique understanding for the military demographic.
"The VSOs, we rely on them to help educate us on the needs of the veterans," Page said. "They know veterans, and they understand the speak."
Undoubtedly, more veterans will be looking for work in the future, as the troop drawdown begins in Afghanistan and more men and women return from overseas. Sharpe says that will make VOWS's mission even more important.
"The firms that make up VOWS are some of the biggest and most esteemed in the financial world," Sharpe said. "That puts them in the perfect position to help veterans find work in a field where veterans need a greater presence. The Legion is here to lend its support."