Several Legionnaires from The American Legion Department of New Jersey greeted nearly 250 veterans who attended the Port Jobs for Veterans Job Fair on May 28 in Elizabeth, N.J.
"We were at the front door with our Legion caps and polo shirts on to welcome the veterans, thank them for their service, and of course they brightened up and thanked us for our service," said Bob Looby, past commander for the Department of New Jersey.
The event, held at the Maher Terminal Building, targeted veterans who were looking for employment as electricians, managers, engineers, port authority police officers and many other employment fields for the Port of New York and New Jersey.
The Port of New York and New Jersey is looking to hire 300 veterans, and the job fair was part of an ongoing agreement between the New York Shipping Association and the International Longshoremen's Association to ensure that 51 percent of all new hires are veterans.
"We believe that veterans, based on the difficult conditions they worked in the past, will be able to work in the different conditions we have in the port," John Nardi, president of the New York Shipping Association, told New Jersey News 12.
The New York Shipping Association and the International Longshoremen's Association approached the Department of New Jersey for assistance with hosting a job fair for veterans. With experience hosting 16 veterans career fairs, the department set up a pre-registration process and marketed the job fair.
"The (New York Shipping) Association personally thanked the department for managing this job fair," Looby said, "because up until this point, they were having a hard time reaching our veterans to get them to apply for these jobs."
Looby helped spread the word about the opening positions throughout New Jersey, as well as New York with assistance from Past National Commander Fang Wong and other New York Legionnaires. He said their efforts made the job fair turnout one of the highest New Jersey has experienced.
Due to it not being a typical job fair with representation from several companies looking to hire, Port of New York and New Jersey terminal operators explained the duties and qualifications for each job position to the attendees, making the job fair "very efficient and productive," Looby said.