By Terry Rogers
With over 857,000 unemployed veterans in the United States, Delaware’s Congressional Delegation, Senator Tom Carper, Senator Chris Coons and Representative John Carney are dedicated to helping Delaware veterans obtain employment. On Friday, August 24, the congressmen sponsored the second Veteran’s Job Fair in the state at Milford High School from 10 am until 2 pm. The Job Fair included employers with current job openings, state agencies, resume assistance businesses and educational representatives available to work with veterans seeking employment. In addition, two workshops, one on Resume Preparation and one on Interview Techniques were available for veterans to attend.
Hundreds of veterans turned out for the event where Senator Carper and Representative Carney both made opening remarks, and spent time talking with the veterans and vendors available to learn what their offices could do to help encourage veteran employment.
“We are seeing a skills gap,” said Representative Carney. “There are ads in the paper that remain unanswered because many of those who are unemployed don’t have the skills they need to obtain those jobs.” Representative Carney explained that on a recent trip to Silicon Valley in California, the response he heard from employers when he asked what skills they were looking for in employees was a need for computer based and technical expertise. Senator Carney saw that as a potential training area for veterans, and urged those in attendance to keep that in mind.
Senator Carper explained that today’s veterans are returning home to a much better G.I. Bill than when he returned from his tours of duty with the U.S. Navy. Carper, a 23-year veteran, explained that they received a $250 per month stipend as part of the G.I. Bill. Today, veterans with three years or more service can receive tuition, books, and even housing stipends to attend college, including University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Wilmington College.
“Our purpose in sponsoring this event today is to bring employers who are looking for employees together with those who need work,” Carper explained.
Gary Fredericks, President and CEO of OnPoint Partners in Wilmington, was at the event trying to fill positions for sales and business development. OnPoint Partners offers back office services, such as human resources, payroll, finance management, IT management and other behind-the-scenes services designed to help businesses grow.
“Whenever I receive a resume from a veteran, I give it special attention. Every veteran I have ever hired has lived up to or exceeded my expectations in an employee,” Fredericks said. He added that he was working with a neighbor, a retired veteran, to develop a center for veterans to help offer training and job skills to offer them better employment opportunities.
Some of the veterans that came to the Job Fair were currently employed, but seeking better opportunities, while others had struggled to find employment. Cliff McLeod came to the OnPoint booth seeking employment in construction or maintenance after a four-year stint in the U.S. Army. Although Frederick did not have positions with his company for that type of employment, he asked for McLeod’s resume to pass on to clients that did have that type of need, and this was a common theme throughout the job fair.
L.D. Lewis was seeking employment as a cook. Lewis was a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Army, and is currently on disability due to an injury he received during his service years. He worked as a cook at various venues throughout the state until the shoulder injury he sustained in the Army forced him out of work temporarily. He was pleased at the information he received at the Job Fair, and found several options that were beneficial to him.
Senator Carper, a member of the Veterans Job Caucus in the U.S. Senate, launched a comprehensive website dedicated to providing important job resources and information to Delaware veterans. The site includes job search information, where VA benefit locations can be found, as well as how to claim education benefits.