Hiring our Heroes

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 20:00

It’s been a decade since we first sent the men and women of our armed forces into combat in the aftermath of 9/11. It’s been the longest continuous combat in our country’s history. And during this decade, there’s been a lot of good-intentioned talk about repaying these incomparable Americans for their service to our country.

Not to discount the parades, the free drinks, and the applause on the plane. All nice signs of appreciation for what these Alaskans have done, and sacrificed. But, if you really want to make a difference for these heroes, do just one thing—help them get a job. It’s a frustrating, sad reality that our current vets often have a difficult time finding meaningful civilian employment, after years or decades sacrificing any semblance of a family life to protect us. “Welcome to civilian life,” a cynic might say—especially one that has also faced the frustrations of finding work in a 9 percent unemployment world. But these are not just more faces in the crowd. These are men and women with an advanced education in “Get it done!” In many cases, they’ve directed teams in tough spots, managed vast resources and budgets, created positive results in impossible conditions—that make what we in civilian life deal with pale by comparison.

Not long ago I was talking to an incredibly impressive young man, about to leave the Air Force, about his plans after several years flying missions in combat. I’d assumed he’d step right into a great civilian pilot job. Nope. Instead of enjoying time here with his family, he’s headed back to the war zone as a civilian contractor, to log more flight time, so he can qualify for even the most basic commercial pilot gig here.

We can and should do more for these heroes. So here’s something we’re doing about it this week.

In partnership with the Alaska Department of Labor and some other great sponsors, our company Morris Alaska is supporting a massive event next week to help thousands of Alaska vets and their families find jobs in Alaska. The other sponsors are the University of Alaska Anchorage, Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve, University Center and Princess Tours. The annual Alaska Veterans and Military Spouses Job Fair will be Nov. 2 in Anchorage at University Center, 10-3. It is open to anybody looking for a job and with a military connection—those currently in or so-to-be out of service, military spouses, and veterans retiring after a full career, ready to start the next one. It’s going to be the biggest job fair of its kind — ever — in Alaska. More than 120 employers are committed to attend, with jobs ready for Alaska vets.

In today’s newspaper, you’ll find an 8-page program that explains more about the fair, including information about many of the programs the Department of Labor provides for vets. This program is being distributed through Morris Communications newspapers throughout Alaska.

If you’re reading this online, you can also find it online at AlaskaJournal.com. We are expanding the fair as well through partnerships with Monster.com and Military.com.

For the first time, we are also making this job fair fully available online to Alaska vets anywhere, through the website www.VirtualCareerEvent.com/AlaskaVeterans. Vets can go online to this site, submit their resume, screen the job openings available and connect with participating employers. Employers, including those not at the show, can review applications and resumes 24/7. And the virtual event will remain live Nov. 2-16. So any Alaska vet — from Anchorage, to Adak, to Afghanistan — should be able to participate.

We hope to see you there Nov. 2, whether you’re an Alaska business or an Alaska vet. If you can’t join us in person, join us online at www.VirtualCareerEvent.com/AlaskaVeterans.

And even if you can’t be involved this time, you can still help. When you next have jobs to fill, contact any of the Alaska Department of Labor Job Centers and ask for their veteran representative.

Next time you need to add a great employee to your organization, hire a vet.

Hire a Hero.

Lee Leschper is Alaska Regional Vice President for Morris Communications, including the Chugiak-Eagle River Star.

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