‘Hiring Our Heroes’ job fair connects vets, employers in Philly

Veterans and their spouses turned out for a hiring fair in Philadelphia Thursday hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Philadelphia-area employers gathered at Lincoln Financial Field to meet the hundreds eager to work.

The event is part of the chamber’s 100-city “Hiring Our Heroes” initiative. So far, it’s connected about 30,000 veterans with more than 1,700 employers. Almost 3,000 veterans have landed jobs.

Cornelius Moore said came to find a job to better his life.

“It’s hard out here,” he said. “Anything, it doesn’t even matter–driver, Amtrak, SEPTA, mailman, gas.”

“We started in March 2011 and we will finish our 100th hiring fair in March of 2012,” said Kevin Schmiegel of the national chamber. “We plan to scale to 400 or 500 cities next year through our local chambers and through partnerships.”

Schmiegel says while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce works with big companies such as Prudential Financial Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the local chambers attract more small- and medium-sized companies.

South Jersey resident Ed Beck, who served in the Marines from 1979 to 1983, came to look for a job in the electronics or communications field.

“One job interview I’ve had in 18 months–and I’ve sent out about 50 resumes and nothing,” he said. “So it’s very hard, it’s very tough for people today. I drove a truck for 23 years and then they downsized and I got laid off. So here I am, standing here …unemployed today.”

Even though his military service was decades ago, Beck said the discipline and good work ethic he picked up in the military should appeal to potential employers.

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