André James, active Navy at Bethesda, Md., speaks with Sherry Graves and Melissa Davis, human resource specialists with Montgomery County Government. Photo by Noel St. John

Job opportunities coming to Milwaukee

The American Legion is tackling the unemployment crisis among veterans with two events in Milwaukee, where the organization will hold its 92nd National Convention.

A day-long veterans job fair will be conducted in the Milwaukee Theater, Plankinton Hall on Aug. 28 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A two-day small business development workshop will follow in the Hilton Milwaukee City Center, Wright Ballrooms, on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Military veterans and their spouses are invited to attend free of charge.

Event organizers say at least 15 government and private sector employers will be on hand at the Saturday job fair representing hundreds of employment opportunities for both military veterans and their spouses.

Entrepreneurs with military backgrounds will benefit greatly from attending the two-day small business development workshop the following Tuesday and Wednesday. Experienced mentors will counsel attendees on entrepreneurial endeavors, such as setting up a veteran-owned business or developing a business plan for landing government contracts.

The Legion, a longtime sponsor of large job fairs and small business workshops nationwide, has joined with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development along with employment recruiters RecruitMilitary, HireVetsFirst and The Northeast Veterans Business Resource Center, as well as veteran-owned firms Oak Grove Technologies and MicroTech.

The Department of Labor has quoted the unemployment rate for young veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as 21.1 percent in 2009. Meanwhile, the jobless rate among non-veterans in the same 18-24 age range was 16.6 percent. Unemployment among all working-age military veterans, according to the report, was 10.2 percent last year - still above the 9.3 percent national rate, a record high in itself since 1983.

"The American Legion has been aware of this situation for some time," said Joe Sharpe, director of the Legion's Economic Division in Washington, "and we are addressing it with frequent, well-attended job fairs and business workshops, such as the ones scheduled in Milwaukee later this month.

"Given today's economic realities, the unemployment challenge among young veterans is especially difficult," Sharpe continued, "but we are doing everything we can to help our country's most deserving job seekers meet it."

Click here to view a schedule of the two-day business-development workshop.