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Owens job fair puts focus on veterans

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Cameron Volkman, left, of Delta discusses job opportunities with Bobby Green of Western & Southern Financial Group.

The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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Times are tough for job seekers, and that includes military veterans returning from service overseas or seeking new work after several years back in civilian life.

To help those veterans search for employment, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services held its second annual Veterans Job Fair Nov. 6 at Owens Community College attended by 300 veterans of different generations and close to 60 employers looking to hire ex-military personnel.

"If they've served their country, we know they can serve us," said Marcia Benner, who works for human resources at the Ohio Department of Transportation and was looking to fill two posts for highway technicians. Ms. Benner said she had hired veterans in the past, and is always impressed when she sees military service on a resume.

That attitude was good news for people like Michael Taylor, 35, of Perrysburg, who served in the army during the First Persian Gulf War. He was recently laid off from a job at Findlay Ford and was looking for work in the security or police fields.

"I think this is great," Mr. Taylor said. "It gives us a chance to meet with employers who are actually looking to hire veterans."

Employers at the fair included the Toledo Police Department, Home Depot, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Also present were representatives from educational establishments, including Owens and the Michigan Institute of Aviation & Technology.

Many employers said they value the discipline and organizational skills that often result from military training.

"You can take a vet and give him an assignment, and you don't have to stand there and walk him through it," said Bobby Green, a field recruiter for Western & Southern Financial Group, a financial services company with an office in Holland. "That's a very valuable skill."

Sean Dalton, 22, of Toledo, who serves part time at the Ohio Air National Guard's 180th Fighter Wing based at the Toledo Express Airport, said he was glad to see that some companies are still looking for workers, despite the economic downturn.

Mr. Dalton was laid off from his job as an operator at American Steel Treating in Perrysburg two weeks ago and was at the fair looking for work.

"There's not very much out there, so this is a blessing," Mr. Dalton said. "It's pretty nice to see people and talk to them. It makes me feel a bit more hopeful."

The fair was preceded by a two-day workshop, where veterans learned job-search skills, such as how to build a resume; give a good interview, and network with employers.

Organizer Jason Brown said veterans often need guidance on how to find work outside of the military.

"It can be very tough when a vet comes back," said Mr. Brown, a Marineveteran. "You have a lot of skills but may not know how to translate them into the civilian market."

Mr. Brown, who is a veterans intensive services coordinator for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services in Toledo, said that the fair was the highlight of the work that he does to help state veterans during the year.

He said attendance at the fair doubled from last year.

"It's been a tremendous honor, both on a personal level and with the state of Ohio, to be able to put this on," Mr. Brown said.

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