Companies aplenty at veterans job fair

The aircraft carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant.

Veterans transitioning back to civilian life can get a little help in the job market at Welcome Home 2012.

The May 17 event, sponsored by the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, is a job fair with Lowcountry companies.

Open to all veterans, active-duty service members, and their families, the event on the aircraft carrier Yorktown is expected to draw more than 800 job seekers.

“When veterans leave the military, the first thing they need is a good job, and we are offering companies a great way to meet and hire them,” said Jan Bolger, event coordinator and VA seamless transition manager. “These are highly trained and highly skilled workers that make excellent employees. Veterans offer the qualities employers are looking for: a strong work ethic, ability to work as part of a highly motivated team, leadership and technical skills.”

Companies and organizations participating include: Boeing, SPAWAR, Sprint, Force Protection, College of Charleston, Department of Veterans Affairs and more than 80 others. The goal is to have more than 100 companies onsite.

It’s the fifth annual event. Last year’s fair included 76 employers and more than 450 job seekers.

“Originally VA came out and wanted each of the medical centers to do a Welcome Home celebration to inform newly returning combat veterans about VA health care and their benefits,” said Tonya C. Lobbestael, spokeswoman at the VA Medical Center and event co-chair. “We looked at it here locally and said, ‘There are some real needs here and the first thing veterans need is the ability to provide for their family.’ ”

The groups also helped Rep. Tim Scott organize a Veterans Job Fair in February that brought out 1,300 participants.

Lobbestael said some have asked whether it’s too soon to have another.

“The reality is, at the beginning of the summer is when you see a lot of folks rolling off active duty or transitioning to new places, and school is ending, and we’ve had demobilizations and a lot of troops returning. We know that the need is great and we feel like it’s a great opportunity for us to try to reach out and as a community to kind of wrap our arms around these folks who are coming back and the ones who returned many years ago and make sure they are finding the jobs they need and the benefits they deserve.”

The event will also include a health fair and onsite enrollment for health care and benefits, resources to help veterans transition following deployments, and giveaways.