Employers Seek Veterans At Job Fair

The Army National Guard Armory in Wyoming was the place to be on Wednesday if you were a veteran seeking employment.

More than 70 different companies and colleges set up shop in an effort to locate prospective employees from the military. Those involved in all branches of service were in attendance as they met employers and handed out resumes. Michigan unemployment rates among veterans in 2010 was almost 30 percent. That number came down to just over 14 percent in 2011, but Governor Snyder still calls that "simply unacceptable."

Bart Verbanic, an Army National Guardsman with two tours to Afghanistan under his belt, a business administration degree, and a bronze star was hopeful and optimistic that he could locate employment. He's been married for five years with three kids, and made the drive in from Montague in hopes of securing work with a company. The unemployed veteran said the "transition from a regimented military lifestyle, to civilian life, to family life, to looking for a job is hard."

Verbanic says the real advantage of this type of job fair is that it's meant specifically for veterans. Even some of the employers themselves are former military personnel that clearly understand the tough transition veterans must make from the battlefield (in some cases) to a less responsible normal civilian life. (If you'd like to put a face to the name, Verbanic is pictured in the suit on the left of this story).

Various colleges and universities were also on hand helping those needing assistance into retraining programs. Northwood University is one institution that actually offers reduced tuition for veterans to take classes toward degrees or certification. In fact, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a program called V-RAP...Veterans Retraining Assistance Program which offers unemployed veterans up to $1,500 per month for up to one year for retraining and college tuition. Click here for more information on this program or call 1-800-827-1000. 

There are also benefits for employers across the board for hiring veterans. Mainly, up to a $9,600 federal credit called the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). The paperwork for employers has been significantly shortened to one page that is filled out within 28 days of hiring a veteran. If you're an employer that would like to inquire about this credit, call the WOTC Unit at 1-800-482-2959 or visit the UIA website (www.michigan.gov/uia).

There's also a link for VRW's Veterans Employment Assistance Service helping with employment rights and benefits for all veterans in the workforce. Get more information at www.vfwmi.org.