Jobs for Heroes ; New Mission: Civilian Employment Veterans Looking for Work Find Help at Fair

Article excerpt

For 26 years, Martin Bradsher has had what he considers the greatest job in the world.

But on July 1, he retires from the U.S. Army and enters a new phase of life as he transitions into the civilian workforce.

"I'm open to anything," said 47-year-old Bradsher. "I'm nervous about the fact that I'm about to change everything I've known, but at the same time I'm excited about that. One of the best things about the Army is that every three years I was somewhere new."

On Wednesday, Bradsher was among more than 100 job seekers who attended a job fair designed for military veterans and their families.

Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, was launched in March 2011 as a nationwide initiative to help veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment. At least 540 job fairs have been held since then across the country as well as in Puerto Rico.

Wednesday's event, held at the Tulsa Event Center at 2625 S. Memorial Drive, was organized by the Tulsa Regional Chamber and local partners together with the U.S. Chamber.

Nationwide, more than 18,400 veterans and military spouses have obtained work through the job fairs, said Kerion Dawkins, regional associate for the Hiring Our Heroes program.

She noted that veterans have a wealth of skills and information that is valuable to the job market, but a lot of that is not evident on a resume or during the interviewing process.

"We know that spouses have the same challenges with employment in and out of the workforce because of deployments and that type of thing," said Denise Reid, director of talent strategies and recruitment for the Tulsa Regional Chamber.

Wednesday's event included interviewing and resume workshops. About 30 veteran service organizations and 86 companies representing banking and insurance, manufacturing, car rental, energy, retail, professional services, call centers and home health care attended the job fair.

Among them was Tulsa-based Industrial Oils Unlimited, a specialty lubricants manufacturer that serves many industries.

"We really want to support our veterans. They've done a lot for our country, and we just want to be there to support them in any way that we can," said Leanna Van Eman, a human resources specialist for Industrial Oils.

She noted that the company has several job openings, including one for a formulation chemist, a truck driver, administrative assistant and engineering tech.

Likewise, Jeromy Walsh, a technical manager for Sears In-Home, was looking for veterans who could work as in-home repairman on major appliances such as dishwashers, ovens and refrigerators. He also needed a couple of people to work in customer relations - one full time, another part time.

Walsh, who is retiring out of the 138th Fighter Wing, a unit of the Oklahoma National Guard, noted that his last couple of veteran hires have been some of his best technicians. …