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Job fair for military helps area veterans find new careers

By Hugh Fisher
For the Salisbury Post
CONCORD ó Sgt. Tony Parker, of the 235th Air Traffic Control Squadron based in Albemarle, has served overseas in Iraq. He has years of experience in aviation.
Now, he’s looking for a new career.
“My last (civilian) job was with BASF in Morganton,” Parker said. But that plant’s closure placed him among the ranks of veterans seeking to retrain or find a new job.
Parker was one of over 400 who drove to Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Thursday for a job fair sponsored by RecruitMilitary LLC and several other veterans’ organizations and employment agencies.
“I just came to see what’s available. I’m hoping to at least get some good leads,” Parker said before getting in line to speak with a recruiter for the Charlotte chapter of the Veterans Club.
“These events have been such an incredible success,” said John Lundberg, an executive with RecruitMilitary, the New York-based company which began as a Web-based service connecting veterans with employers.
“We are a nationwide, full-service recruiter for military to civilian retraining. We help service members who are seeking additional experience since the military.”
The company works with President Bush’s National Hire Veterans Committee and other federal and civilian campaigns to help former service members find employment after leaving the military.
The company claims a database of over 193,000 job candidates, and Lundberg said that Thursday’s job fair is one of over 100 such events that RecruitMilitary will host in 44 cities during 2008.
“This is the first of four job fairs we’ll hold in the Charlotte area this year,” Lundberg said. He estimated attendance at between 400 and 600 men and women.
Thirty companies, universities and local agencies ó including Cabarrus County JobLink ó had representatives at the job fair.
Mandy Smith of Gardner-Webb University said veterans were eligible for her school’s bachelor’s degree completion program.
“We’re spreading the word across North Carolina because a lot of these people already have experience and training courses that can transfer in,” Smith said.
The job fair attracted new vets and retirees hoping to find a second career.
Rick Mendoza of Concord served in the U.S. Marine Corps and hopes to find a new position that can make use of his skills.
“I got electrical training in the military, and for a number of years I’ve been a technician,” Mendoza said.
He stood in line to speak with a recruiter for Morris-Jenkins Heating and Air Conditioning of Charlotte. His hope was to find a job that would provide health benefits.
“I’m looking to see what might be available, something to meet the need,” Mendoza said.
Lundberg said companies are eager to hire people with military experience, despite a troubled economy.
“They have the education, they have the experience, they have the training,” Lundberg said. “These are the things that employers seek.”
And Sergeant Parker said he was excited to see the number and variety of opportunities that were available at the fair.
“This is a big help to me, just to see where in North Carolina I can work, to learn about the opportunities,” Parker said.
Contact Hugh Fisher at 704-797-4245 or hfisher@salisburypost.com.

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