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Hiring Our Heroes job fair focuses on helping veterans find work

April 16, 2013|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Retired U.S. Marine Ian Hamilton, left, of Williamsport met with Carla M. Sweet, a certified rehabilitaion councelor with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Martinsburg, W.Va., on Tuesday afternoon during the Hiring Our Heroes job fair at the Hagerstown National Guard Armory.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

Richard Andrews III said he has a job at a local graphics company, but it’s hard to get enough hours to make a decent living.

Andrews, who is an Army veteran, and dozens of others with military experience were at the National Guard Armory off Roxbury Road on Tuesday to attend Hiring Our Heroes-Hagerstown, one of four job fairs scheduled to be held in Maryland this year to help veterans and their spouses find work.

With 36 prospective employers ranging from Walmart to Lockheed Martin, Andrews said he was pleasantly surprised by the event.

“One thing I appreciate is the friendliness, the eagerness to help military people,” said Andrews, who lives in Martinsburg, W.Va. “To me, it looks like it’s well-organized.”

Butch Hensel, executive director of Maryland Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, said the Hagerstown event was the second of four job fairs in the program.

He said the first job fair was held in February in Towson. After Hagerstown, the event will travel to Andrews Air Force Base in May and to Aberdeen Proving Ground in August.

Hensel said no one will be turned away, and assistance in resume writing is available to veterans who need it.

“The purpose is to connect them with employers who are military-friendly,” Hensel said. “They’re looking for good quality employees.”

Baltimore Police Detective Greg Ostrander said he was at the job fair to recruit veterans to fill a number of police officer positions.

“We’re looking to hire 200 officers this year and we’re looking for veterans ... from all branches and all ranks,” he said.

Ostrander said one in four of the department’s recent new hires has been a veteran. Police officer positions start at $43,136 per year, he said.

Employees who stay on receive annual step increases, and college graduates earn a little more than officers without a degree.

He said the first step involves taking a test at police headquarters. Those who are accepted after passing the test must successfully complete 26 weeks of academic training at the Baltimore Police Academy, Ostrander said, and 10 weeks of field training.

Martinsburg resident Brian Mertz said he served seven years in the Army Reserve.

He said he holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a mater’s degree in counseling.

“I’m looking for any opportunity in management and education,” he said.

Mertz currently is unemployed, he said, and was optimistic about finding a lead at the job fair.

“I think they have some good opportunities for me,” he said.

The job fair was co-sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, Maryland Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, American Legion and other local partners.

To learn more, go to www.uschamber.com/hiringourheroes.

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