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Hundreds of veterans attend “Hiring our Heroes” job fair

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MILWAUKEE -- It's hard enough finding a job with the tough economy, but for military men and women, the search for a job after they leave the service is even harder. On Thursday, July 12th, there was a big opportunity for them to find employment at the War Memorial Center through the “Hiring our Heroes” job fair.

Army veteran Raymond Adkins was laid off from his job a month ago. He served in Kosovo.

“It has been difficult looking.  What makes it even worse is I’ve got three kids and a wife, so I’ve got to get the move on,” Adkins said.

Darlene Haines, another Army vet, has been unemployed for two years.

“I've got double-major bachelors degree and it's still hard,” Haines said.

At the job fair Thursday, there were some encouraging numbers for hundreds of veterans, and their military spouses. Over 60 employers were on hand with nearly 2,800 available jobs.

“A lot of the companies here are expanding and business is picking up. This is good news,” Stanley Kogutkiewicz, event coordinator from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and Office of Veterans Affairs said.

Hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, this is the first career fair to be held at the War Memorial and the only one featuring jobs through federal contractors and government agencies.

“We have about 10 positions available and it goes across the firm, from construction inspection to structural engineers, to architects,” Bob Warren, area leader from GRAEF Engineering firm said.

Warren stresses the benefits of hiring those who've served.

“They understand discipline.  They're taught leadership.  They understand how to follow in addition to leading,” Warren said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is hoping more employers will hire vets.  At least 13 percent of Wisconsin veterans are unemployed.

“I think it's the least we can do as a company to support them,” Warren said.

For the hundreds of unemployed veterans like Adkins, they're hoping the job search on Thursday will be their last.

“Froedtert Health is looking for my profession and hopefully it goes well,” Adkins said.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is hoping to hire 500,000 veterans and military spouses nationwide by the end of 2014. 

Another job fair is planned at the VA Medical Center on October 5th.