When the U.S. Chamber of Commerce foundation canceled the “Hire our Heroes” job fair, other members of the community stepped up to the plate.
On Thursday, the “Veteran Employment Opportunity Fair” was held at American Legion Post #111. The fair was a joint collaboration between the Jasper County Economic Development Corporation and the Jasper County Veterans Affairs Office.
“This our first job fair,” JEDCO executive director Chaz Allen said. “Our expectations are number one, learn how it works and number two, put some of these vets back to work. Obviously, the veterans are an important part of our community and our economy.”
“As our conflicts and wars wind down, they will become an even bigger part of our economy,” Allen said. “Putting them back to work is a critical effort here.”
Allen said if the fair goes well, it could be an annual event for the community.
The VA Office and JEDCO recruited a healthy number of employers to the fair and there was no charge to set-up a booth.
Walter G. Anderson, HIRTA, Skiff Medical Center, the Iowa Veterans Home, Trinity Structural Towers, JANCO, VA Education Consultants, Rock Communications and several other employers were present and looking to help employ veterans.
“We currently have LPN and R2W (CNA) positions open,” Iowa Veterans Home Nurse Supervisor I Kyrstle Faris said. “We are also having a registered nursing position open in the near future.”
Faris, who is a veteran herself, spoke highly of hiring veteran workers.
“We are a veteran’s facility. We like to support and provide jobs for those veterans who are needing them,” Faris said. “We like to help out any we can and we currently have several veterans employed at the Veterans Home.”
HIRTA Operations Supervisor Blake Hansen said his company had immediate openings.
“We are hiring mostly for part-time and full-time drivers,” Hansen said. “You need a Class C CDL, a clean driving record and your IDOT medical certification. We are hiring company wide. This is just for Jasper County today; it’s nice if drivers know the streets and areas of town.”
Iowa Department of Education Veterans and Military Education Consultant Tom Beasley was on hand for the fair. Beasley educated the vets in attendance and the employers on different uses of the GI Bill and the benefits of hiring veterans.
“Typically, military service teaches them discipline, requires them to be on time, and requires them to be pretty quick thinkers,” Beasley said. “Generally, they are used to wearing a particular type of uniform and following orders and directions.”
“The other benefit of hiring military tends to be is that they have a higher level of physical fitness than the general population,” Beasley said. “As a comparison right now, I think three out of 10 high school students are physically or academically eligible to serve in the military. (The rest) are either overweight or don’t have the physical fitness level.”
Beasley also elaborated more on his job.
“My specialty isn’t getting veterans hired, but helping veterans make better use out of their GI Bill in approved programs,” Beasley said. “A little known fact is that a veteran can use their GI Bill in something other than an academic setting.”
In an email, Jasper County Veteran’s Affairs director Chris Chartier summed up what the fair was all about.
“There are men and women here who are ready and willing to work,” Chartier said. “Let’s show them what great opportunities these local businesses are offering, while displaying the eager and competent workforce of our local community.”
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at email@example.com.