AUGUST 17, 2009
G.I. Go hosts Job Fair for 4,000 Veterans as part of DoD Yellow Ribbon Event
The G.I. Go Fund, held one of the largest military job fairs in New Jersey history at the Atlantic City Convention Center
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – Governor Jon Corzine, Major General Glenn K. Rieth, Congressman Frank LoBiondo, G.I. Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous, and other dignitaries joined with members of New Jersey National Guard’s 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team at New Jersey’s Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Event for returning New Jersey National Guard soldiers held at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
Over the past year, the men and women of the Army National Guard’s 50th Infantry Brigade were bravely fighting in Iraq, serving their country, and protecting their neighbors back home. But while they were battling overseas, their home country was enduring the largest economic meltdown since the Great Depression. And when they returned home, they discovered that even those who would go to defend our country were not immune from these hard economic times, as many had difficulty securing steady employment.
In an effort to combat this problem, the State of New Jersey, in partnership with The G.I. Go Fund, held one of the largest military job fairs in New Jersey history at the Atlantic City Convention Center this past weekend. The event, which lasted two days, gave the over 3,000 veterans of the 50th Infantry Brigade an opportunity to meet face to face with over 140 different organizations, ranging from businesses like PSE&G and the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, to agencies like the United States Secret Service and the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
“Last year, we all looked at you and wished for your safe return,” said Governor Jon Corzine as he addressed the veterans and their families. “Now you have all returned, successfully completing what you were asked. It is now our responsibility, the citizens you left to protect, to help in your transition back home. This job fair is just one step in what must be done, and what will be done, to ensure a bright future for you and your families.”
Unemployment among veterans, particularly those from the recent conflicts, has seen a sharp increase in the past months. Last year, the unemployment rate for those who had served in the military after September 2001 was 7.3 percent, higher than the rate for all veterans, 4.6 percent, according to 2008 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“The next two days will help you ensure that you and your loved ones will have a secure future,” said General Glenn K. Rieth, Adjutant General of the New Jersey National Guard. “We hope that you will take full advantage of the opportunity.”
In addition, G.I. Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous discussed the unique and unmatched skill set that veterans can bring to any job that they have.
“Employers are beginning to realize that a career in the military is as good of a line on a resume as any other job in America, because nobody works harder, and with more dedication, than the men and women who are willing to give up everything in the defense of others,” said Fanous.
While many in attendance sought gainful employment, others were seeking to take advantage of the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, which offers veterans the ability to receive full education benefits when they attend college. The bill, which was passed last year and went into effect on August 1st, allows veterans, or in many cases their spouse or dependents, the opportunity to get a degree that, will help them secure great employment opportunities in the future.
“The [Post 9/11 G.I.] Bill drew a considerable amount of interest this weekend,” said Fanous. “Almost half of the veterans at the event met with representatives from schools like Rutgers University and Thomas Edison State College to see what their benefits could lead to in the future. They are very excited about the doors that can be opened for them with this new service. And they have every right to be, because this bill is showing them the recognition they earned when they deployed.”
Fanous later discussed his desire for the success of this job fair to lead to similar large-scale events across the country.
“I am very glad that we and the state of New Jersey were able to reach out and assist so many veterans at one time,” he said. “But we must do more. Veterans across this country are still struggling to find employment, and so many more are still unaware of what is available to them with the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. We launched www.post911gibill.org to ensure they have the information they need regarding their new education benefits. We need to reach out to all of them in the same fashion that we did this weekend, not just because we owe it to them for what they did for us, or because so many of them are in need, but because they have truly earned it.”