Hiring Our Heroes job fair set for July 31 at Butler VA

| Saturday, July 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Veterans looking for work will have a chance to meet 35 employers in Butler County at a job fair this month organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

The foundation has sponsored 570 fairs nationally since launching the Hiring Our Heroes job fairs in 2011, and about 20,200 veterans and military spouses have found jobs through the program, it said.

“We have a large veteran population in Butler County,” said Stan M. Kosciuszko, president of the Butler County Chamber of Commerce.

“The event gives them a chance to find a job they may not find otherwise. Employers like it because it makes hiring more efficient for them.

Census figures show that Butler County has 16,041 veterans in a total population of about 185,000 people.

The job fair will be from 9 a.m. to noon July 31 at the Butler VA Health Care, 325 New Castle Road, the site of last year's job fair hosted by the foundation.

Last year, 39 employers and 254 veterans and attended the fair. Sixty-two veterans got interviews, 20 received conditional offers, and 10 veterans were hired on the spot, Kosciuszko said.

“Employers especially like it when they can get a perfect candidate. They love being able to have so many job candidates in one place,” said Emily Clark Muñoz, who organizes the foundation's Hiring Our Heroes job fairs.

Muñoz's husband, Army Capt. Gil Muñoz, died in 2005 of an infection he likely contracted in Iraq, she said.

“He always said being in the Army is all about taking care of the guys. So it means a lot for me to take care of the guys,” she said.

The job fairs are open to all U.S. active duty service members, guard and reserve members, veterans and spouses.

For businesses, national employers must have at least two open positions in the location of the hiring fair and five positions open nationally.

Smaller businesses must have at least one open local position.

Last year's unemployment rate for veterans was 6.9 percent nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But younger veterans have far higher rates. In 2012, the unemployment rate for male veterans ages 18 to 24 was 20 percent, higher than the 16.4 percent for non-veterans of the same age.

Unemployment for male veterans ages 25 to 34 was 10.4 percent last year, compared to 8.1 percent for non-veterans of the same age.

“A lot of these people joined the military at 18. They have done a lot but have probably never been on a job hunt. It has also been a very challenging economy for most young people,” said Kim Morton, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Hiring Our Heroes has hosted six veteran and military spouse job fairs in Pennsylvania this year — two in Philadelphia and one each in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Altoona, Meadville and Harrisburg.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at rwills@tribweb.com.

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