March 16, 2010

The G.I. Go Fund, City of Newark and Rutgers-Newark Host 'Year of the Vet' Newark Veterans Transitional Job Fair at the Paul Robeson Campus Center

Hundreds of veterans registered in advance to attend the job fair, and more than 400 veterans ultimately attended. U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg was the event’s keynote speaker.

U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg addresses a crowd of veterans and supporters at G.I. Go Fund's Newark Veterans Job Fair.  (Right:  G.I. Go Deputy Director Alexander E. Manis)

NEWARK, NJ - The G.I. Go Fund, Mayor Cory A. Booker, the Municipal Council, and Rutgers-Newark co-hosted a FREE “Year of the Vet” Transitional Job Fair for Newark Veterans and their families at Rutgers-Newark’s Paul Robeson Campus Center, located at 350 Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard, yesterday.

“We are calling 2010 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. We must come together and declare 2010 the ‘Year of the Vet,’” G.I. Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous said.

Hundreds of veterans registered in advance to attend the job fair, and more than 400 veterans ultimately attended. U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg was the event’s keynote speaker.

“I’m here today at this job fair because I think that it’s critical that we help people to get jobs after service. This is what the country owes them, to help them reconstruct their lives in a way that’s good for them and their families. I am pleased to be here today, and thank the institutions that are here to provide a better life

for these veterans,” said Senator Lautenberg. “I encourage veterans to take advantage of the new GI Bill, get an education, and get a better means of providing for their families. The G.I. Go Fund is terrific, doing good work to engage veterans to structure their lives after military service.”

A wide array of public and private sector employers and more than a dozen colleges were present, along with agencies providing outreach support to veterans and their families. In addition, there was information for veterans and their families on home foreclosure prevention, Small Business Administration loans, Veterans’ Administration home loans and information about the Post 911 GI Bill.

“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 supported this event to provide our veterans with the crucial resources they need, especially during these challenging economic times, to help them transition back into civilian life.”

Rutgers-Newark Assistant Chancellor Gerald Massenburg said, “Since we have embarked upon our new Veterans initiative, co-hosting this transitional job fair with the G.I. Go Fund and the City of Newark was most appropriate. We were honored to have the event held on the Rutgers-Newark Campus, enabling our veterans as well as the veterans in the community at large, to benefit from the abundant opportunities.”

Representatives from the City of Newark’s Fire Department were also present to actively recruit veterans. Newark has the largest fire department in New Jersey and is approximately the 50th largest fire department in the United States.

During the event, Fire Chief Michael Lalor, who is himself a disabled Vietnam Veteran, addressed the attendees and said, “Firefighting is truly a profession of helping others in need and as a paramilitary organization, the Newark Fire Department is currently looking for a few good men and women to join our department. As veterans you have the perfect opportunity to achieve your goal of becoming a firefighter. All veterans who pass the civil service commission’s examination for firefighter will be immediately placed at the top of the hiring list. This is one small way to show our appreciation to you for your service to our country.”

“As a veteran looking for a job, this G.I. Go Newark Transition Fair is more than I could ever hope for. In one day I was able to meet and network with dozens of employers and explore many different career opportunities,” said US Army Sgt. 1st Class (Ret.) Efrain Mercado.

Director Fanous added, “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.”