Eric Eversole, executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program, had no idea three years ago how many veterans career fairs would come from the idea of connecting chambers of commerce nationwide with job applicants who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Tuesday, at The American Legion’s 96th National Convention, he reported exactly how many. “This is our 775th hiring fair in the last three years,” he said, adding that the ongoing series of American Legion-supported events has assisted more than 200,000 veterans in their career pursuits. “And we’re not done yet.”
Eversole and American Legion Veterans Employment and Education Commission Chairman Denise Rohan signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday morning renewing their shared commitment to help veterans find rewarding jobs.
A Hiring Our Heroes career fair followed that, capping a third day of American Legion workshops, meetings and other employment activities for veterans and military personnel. No fewer than 80 employers – including CSX Railroad, FedEx, Hearst Television, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Northrop Grumman, Sears Holding Co. and USAA – were on hand to interview veterans and active-duty troops. The American Legion bused in groups of active-duty Marines from Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point Air Station, as well as soldiers from Fort Bragg, N.C. Others came to the fair from as far away as Fort Benning, Ga.
Eversole said that with some 1.5 million active-duty men and women expected to discharge from the service in the next five years, the need to help them make the transition to civilian careers can only be expected to increase. “We need to be ready,” he said. “Our mission is not finished. The American Legion has been great about serving veterans for a very long time, and it’s going to need to continue. (The Chamber of Commerce) can’t accomplish this alone.”
In addition to the Legion, Eversole recognized title sponsor USAA, preferred provider of financial services for The American Legion, for its support of the hiring events. Mike Kelly, executive director of military advocacy for USAA, said the association has hired nearly 1,000 veterans in the last year alone. Also welcoming job seekers and employers at the event were Ron Bogle, state chairman of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, and Evon DeGregorio, director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans Employment and Training Service.
To learn more about the Hiring Our Heroes career events, visit www.hiringourheroes.org online.
“The American Legion is in communities all over America,” Rohan said at the MOU signing. “So is the Chamber of Commerce. It really makes sense.”
“It’s a natural fit,” Eversole added. “We share the common goal of helping veterans.”