James Washington, a retired Army sergeant, started his job hunt two months ago when he left Fort Gordon after eight years of service.
“It’s easier than I thought it would be, but it’s still a process transitioning out of the Army into the civilian world,” said Washington, who was among hundreds of veterans at a Martinez job fair Tuesday. “It’s a stressful process.”
Both he and friend David Mack spent the first half of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes job fair dropping off résumés at employer booths, including Janus, Spherion Staffing Services and Lockheed Martin.
This was Washington’s sixth job fair in two months. He hopes to stay in Augusta with his young children.
“Just being here is motivation in itself,” he said. “You kind of feel that appreciation that you don’t get at a normal job fair.”
More than 40 employers set up booths and offered an estimated 200 jobs to veterans and their spouses, said Ernie Lombardi, the chamber’s Hiring our Heroes associate for the Southeast.
In the first two hours, more than 400 people came to the job fair at Savannah Rapids Pavilion, Lombardi said.
The chamber wants to find employment for 500,000 veterans and spouses nationwide by the end of 2014.
“I was excited when I saw the line out the door,” said Dewayne Porter, the transportation director for Columbia County schools. “At the same time, I was kind of sad because there’s that many people possibly out of work.”
Porter had five bus-driving positions available, and résumés were being accepted for each department in the school system. Porter said about 200 people stopped by his booth during the first hour.
ADP project manager Michael Anderson said veterans make good employees because they’re responsible and prompt.
“For the jobs that we have open, military people are a good fit,” said Anderson, whose company was looking to hire 50 people locally and had already secured seven interviews for project managers.