Hundreds of Hoosier jobseekers showed up for an event at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Wednesday seeking employment, all of them veterans.
The unemployment rate among post 9-11 Indiana veterans has been about twice that of non-veterans. For the last six years, Operation Hire a Hoosier Vet has been working to give former service members a leg up in their job seeking.
Nearly 200 organizations set up booths at the fair. It’s the state’s largest employment fair just for veterans and it’s growing larger by the year, says Roger Peterman, transition assistance advisor with the Indiana National Guard:
"A great group of employers with a wide variety of positions and one of the great things about being here as an employers is that you had to have postitions available," says Peterman.
About 400 people pre-registered for the event, around three times the turnout of previous fairs. And Peterman said total attendance might reach 1,000.
Larry Simpson is a disabled Gulf War Vet looking for part time work. He says his job-hunting experience has been mixed.
"A lot of people will find you something to do," says Simpson, "but it's hard to find a sit-down job, especially when you don't have the qualifications for it."
Some veterans have benefitted from job training offered by organizations like The Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs. Dan Power completed three tours of duty with the Marines and recently finished machinery courses. He says soft skills he acquired in the service are also an advantage.
"We're usually very punctual, we usually don't like to miss work, we usually have goals," explains Power.
Some of Indiana’s biggest employers participated in the fair, including Allison Transmission, Rolls Royce, Cummins and Purdue.