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Hamden, Conn. job fair puts focus on veterans

HAMDEN — Veterans young and old parked their cars up and down Sherman Avenue outside the CFC Arena Indoor Sports Center to attend the Hiring for Heroes job fair Wednesday in hopes of finding a job.

Various companies and organizations showed up in search of job candidates who are veterans to fill open positions.

The hiring fair was hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in partnership with the Hamden Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, the U.S. Army Reserve, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Legion and NBC News.

Veterans were able to apply for open positions on-site or were referred to online applications. Some employers conducted interviews on the spot.

Dakota Meyer, a Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest honor for courage, said the skills veterans acquire while enlisted are what make them “great candidates” for any position. Meyer served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Personnel management, discipline and integrity are all skills we’ve been taught. We bring a lot to the table,” Meyer said.

For Meyer, transferring his skills as a military sniper into an everyday job was a difficult transition.

“There aren’t a lot of jobs out there for a sniper,” Meyer said.

After his problems finding a job, Meyer teamed up with Toyota and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to launch www.resumeengine.org, a website that translates veterans’ skills to what a future employer can match to their needs.

Julie Albert, field marketing recruiter with Next Step Living, said her employer already has employed two reservists and hopes to hire more.

“We want to hire those who have given back to their community because that’s what we do. They (veterans) have a great, strong work ethic, and that’s what we’re looking to hire,” Albert said.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., has initiated a bill in which veterans facing job or housing discrimination would be able to appeal grievances to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Fair Housing Act also would be amended to protect service members and veterans seeking to rent or purchase a home, according to a press release.

“I think there are false fears out there (about veterans and PTSD), and any employer relying on those fears should be penalized,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said job opportunities for veterans haven’t seen improvements due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of the problem.

“There’s been slowness in results because of a failure to recognize the scope and scale of the problem and how important it is to address it now,” Blumenthal said.

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