march 15, 2011

GI Go Fund and Rutgers Co-Host Newark Veterans Job and GI Bill Fair at Rutgers-Newark's Paul Robeson Campus Center

Private companies, public sector, educational institutions are present; Outreach services also on hand to help vets and their families

NEWARK, NJ - The GI Go Fund, Rutgers-Newark, and its Rutgers-Newark Student Veterans Organization co-hosted a Newark Veterans Job and GI Bill Fair today at Rutgers-Newark’s Paul Robeson Campus Center.

As veterans return home from combat, many of them are having difficulty securing steady employment, and many more are looking to improve their resumes by attending college through the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The current difficulties veterans are facing are so serious that First Lady Michelle Obama will announce later this month new initiatives aimed specifically to address veterans’ employment and education.

Representatives from a wide array of public and private sector employers were present, along with agencies providing outreach support to veterans and their families. In addition, the New Jersey Department of Labor’s Veteran Representatives were on hand to review veterans’ resumes and offer tips on improving them, as well as schedule follow-up appointments at their respective One-Stop Career Centers.

“Our veterans deserve the support of a grateful City and nation after their service to our country and long overseas deployments,” Mayor Booker said in a statement. “I am grateful to the many employers and agencies who are participating in this event to provide them with crucial resources they need, especially during these challenging economic times, to help them transition back into civilian life.”

Employers and agencies scheduled to be present at the fair included the following: Council for Airport Opportunity; ConocoPhillips; Bayway Refinery; New York State Police; Merck; New York City Fire Department; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; NJ TRANSIT; America Approved Energy Services Direct; Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies; Pre-Paid Legal Service, Inc.; Edward Jones; Viridian Energy; PRIMERICA; New Jersey State Police; AvisBudgetGroup; Cintas Corporation; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Prudential Financial; Lev-Tech; U.S EEOC; Regus Management Group; Federal Bureau of Investigation; PSEG; The Diversified Companies; Hudson Community Enterprises; Port Authority of NY and NJ; Paychex, Inc.; Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ; J.B. Hunt Transport; Princeton University; Frito-Lay, Inc.; Actavis; Drug Enforcement Administration; New York Fire Department; Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Johnny On The Spot, Inc.; Nycomed US Inc.; TD Bank; JPMorgan Chase; Crestron Electronics; Flyte Tyme Worldwide; Randstad; US Army; the US Secret Service; and Arbonne International.

In addition, the following schools attended: Berkeley College ; University of Phoenix ; Centenary College ; DeVry University ; Montclair State University ; NJ Guard Training Academy; Mobile Technical Training; Bloomfield College ; Kaplan University ; Caldwell College ; WyoTech; Felician College ; The Education Guru; NCC Workforce Development Center ; Grand Canyon University ; Rider University ; Operation College Promise; and Middlesex County College .

Other organizations present included NJ Veterans Business Outreach at Rutgers Business School; US Department of Labor; OPERATION CHILLOUT; Rebuilding Together, Essex; New Jersey Department Of Labor, Newark One-Stop Career Center; Department of Veterans Affairs; Bloomfield Veterans’ Center; VA Enrollment; NJ Shares; The Women’s Rights Center; VITAS Innovative Hospice; New Jersey Army National Guard Education Office; War Related Illness Injury Study Center; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Social Security Administration; Franchise Monsters/Orion Consulting; and NJ Family Care.

“We are calling 2011 the ‘Year of the Vet,’ so that we may begin to turn the page on a decade of war and begin to focus on a decade of caring for our veterans. It is imperative that the nation does not repeat the same mistakes made following the Vietnam War,” Mr. Fanous said. He noted that the veterans’ unemployment rate nationwide is 16 percent. “While economic times are challenging, large employers and small are still hiring, and they seek the values and abilities that our veterans bring to the civilian workplace: commitment, teamwork, loyalty, dedication, and real-world experience. We will help our returning heroes begin the next chapter in their lives.”

Mr. Fanous noted that more than 80 employers, learning institutions, and support agencies were present at the job fair, providing information, which ranged from job opportunities with the FBI to programs to provide veterans with free home repairs. “We’re achieving Mayor Booker’s goal for our office, to bring in the entire community to support our veterans,” Mr. Fanous said.

More than 100 veterans pre-registered for the event, and the Multi-Purpose Room was packed with job-seekers and prospective employers. “We’re getting a lot of people here today who are interested in IT and retail positions,” said Fran Gerardi, Valley National Bank’s Assistant Vice President for Human Resources. “Veterans bring maturity, stability, dependability, and a sense of dedication to the workplace.”

Another recruiter was PSE&G utility mechanic Joe Pace, himself a GI GO Fund Job Fair success story. Two year ago, Mr. Pace, fresh out of the Marine Corps and a tour in Iraq, got his job with PSE&G through a GI GO Fund-sponsored job fair. Today he worked to recruit other veterans for PSE&G jobs. “So far the hiring has gone pretty good. We have some good candidates here, some people with good military experience. We think that military experience translates to the utility.

“Veterans themselves have the best way of getting trained. They’re used to taking orders, they’re used to giving orders, and they’re very disciplined. They have more hands-on technology skills, which veterans are very familiar with, and that’s very important at PSE&G,” he added. “A lot of what we do involves vehicles and engineering. We are a very veteran-friendly company. It’s a great place to work and be around.”

Veterans’ old and young sought jobs or information. One of the senior veterans was George Hillman, Jr., a Newark native and Vietnam Army veteran, who was seeking information about transitional housing and employment. “I want to find out about the new housing project that’s being built in about a year in the South Ward,” he said. “I’m getting the information I need. It’s been very good. The GI Go Fund has been on point. They help you when you ask questions, they’re very pleasant. If they don’t know the answers they try to find them. I think the younger guys will get a lot out of this job fair. It’s the perfect place for them.”

Veterans came from all over the region. One veteran came from Georgia. “I’m moving to Woodbridge at the end of the month,” said Michael Barney, an Army veteran with two tours in Iraq. “I was told by my family that this is a good job opportunity for veterans, I’m in the process of moving here, so I flew up here for it. I’m getting a lot of information from a lot of good employers here today.

“Returning veterans need information the most. I didn’t know until I started coming to job fairs what I could do, and I wasn’t sure what I was qualified to do. Now I have some idea of what I can do, and now I’m looking at a job in security. I’m very happy with this job fair,” he said.

The GI Go Newark Veterans Transition Center is a non-profit office that provides and coordinates a vast array of services and support to veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, as well as to veterans of previous generations. Currently operating from a centralized location in Newark City Hall, The GI Go Veterans Transition Center provides veterans with support for VA enrollment, mental wellness, securing employment, education advancement, and financial support, among other things. The center is unique, as it is the first-ever partnership between a municipality and a non-governmental organization (NGO) to support veterans and address their issues in the nation’s history.

For more information on other GI Go Fund programs, visit them online at www.gigofund.org or call the GI Go Veterans Transition Center at (973) 802-1479.