Several hundred job seekers from the ranks of veterans, military and military spouses turned out for this month’s 2013 Hiring Our Heroes Veterans Hiring Fair at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Ave.
The job seekers passed through the booths set up in the Orville L. Hubbard Ballroom, the hall and Studio A by prospective employers for the event. In the final count provided by Kathryn Poynton, director of hiring fairs in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program, 325 job seekers in all had the opportunity to talk to 115 employers.
“I think our veterans definitely deserve to come back home and have jobs available,” said Investment Adviser Representative and Regional Vice President Kristen Dunn, who was manning a booth for Primerica in the ballroom. “We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
“Ours is a business opportunity, it’s not jobs specific, I’ve talked to the U.S. Chamber and Dearborn Chamber about that, so it’s important people know that,” she said.
Since it is a business opportunity, Dunn explained, job seekers have different options to pursue with Primerica, both part-time and full-time.
One of those job seekers, a former infantryman who was directed to the job fair by Job Works in Southgate, said he had applied for two jobs already at the event. Licensed professionally for plumbing, heating and refrigeration (mainly underground work and air conditioning), Dave Schoenfeldt said when he was growing up, his training was for a specific field.
“I’ve been putting out ads for eight months, and I’ve gotten a lot of first-time calls, but you never get the second call back,” Schoenfeldt said. “I know that’s the bad part, but the good part is there’s job fairs out here, I can come to them, I’ve gone to like four of them.
“So most of them are looking for more specialized fields than I really have been in,” he said.
Finding jobs is certainly one of the biggest concerns of the veterans he works with, said David Thomas, manning one of the booths in the veteran groups area in the mezzanine. Thomas, a regional coordinator for the Buddy-to-Buddy Volunteer Veteran Program in the University of Michigan Health System Department of Psychiatry, said he primarily works with the National Guard, as well as returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“They transition out of military life to civilian life, they’re wondering where the next paycheck is coming from, just like everybody else,” Thomas said. “That’s why our organization exists, and that’s why job fairs like this are really helpful.
“Supposedly all these people are willing to hire, so as long as they’re willing to hire, this is really helpful,” Thomas said.
The hiring event was conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce, City of Dearborn as well as veterans groups and government agencies.