Jeremy Wolfsteller knows how challenging it can be for veterans and servicemembers to find and receive the benefits they have earned through service to their country.As department service officer for the Minnesota Department of The American Legion, one of Wolfsteller’s duties is helping veterans and servicemembers understand the benefits - and the process to receive them.
“We have access to so many great things, once the Department of Defense is done with you, all the access to entitlements for state benefits may never get communicated,” Wolfsteller said.
“… There’s so much out there, they don’t know where all the benefits are.”
Wolfsteller and Minnesota Department Commander James Kellogg represented The American Legion at Tuesday’s U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes job fair at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center, home of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. It was one of about 20 Hiring Our Heroes job fairs this year involving professional basketball or hockey teams. Overall, the Legion works with the Chamber of Commerce on more than 100 job fairs every year.
“The Wild is really gracious,” said Julie Russell, Hiring Our Heroes central and southwest regional associate. “I don’t think we could have an event like this anywhere else in Minnesota.”
“Every time (Hiring Our Heroes) come to Minnesota, and it’s in the Xcel Center, it’s the biggest turnout,” Wolfsteller said. “Not only employers, but in registered veterans and their spouses.
“It’s a great opportunity to network.”
Russell said the event, which provided interviews, networking opportunities and resume workshops for servicemembers, veterans and their family members, drew 353 attendees and 93 employers.
“Events like this are very important in connecting servicemembers with potential companies they wouldn’t know were available,” Russell said. “It opens up their horizons and lets them know so much is out there that they might not be aware of.”
Through surveys, employers reported 12 firm offers for jobs and 20 others would be follow-ups, either a second interview or the next step in the hiring process.
“The feedback from the employers was phenomenal. Last year was good, this year was even better,” she said.
Wolfsteller said at least 50 or 60 of those attending stopped by The American Legion booth for information.
“A lot of them knew about The American Legion … but they didn’t know how can they get involved,” he said.
Wolfsteller said the event provides The American Legion and other service organizations a great opportunity for outreach.
“We’re more than just the bars and the fish frys,” he said. “We’re very strategic in what we do for our veterans and servicemembers.”