Welcome Home event gives employers a chance to hire vets

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Employers in the Charleston area are getting a chance to welcome home veterans by offering them jobs.

The Welcome Home event scheduled for Thursday is both a job fair and a veterans' benefits event. In addition to veterans, active duty service members and their families may attend the event at the Charleston Area Convention Center in North Charleston.

There's also workshop for veterans to help with writing resumes and navigating the job search.

"It's really about addressing those immediate needs when our veterans start rolling off of active duty. We know the first thing they need to do is take care of their families. They want a job," said Tonya Lobbestael with the VA public affairs office.

Sherray Jackson is one veteran looking for work so she can provide for her family.

"I'm trying to network, meet people, shake hands, talk to other vets and stay positive while I'm looking for employment," said Jackson.{}

Jackson is currently working on her master's degree while continuing a job search she started in March.

"Until I get a call back I'm going to continue to look, so the job is not going to come to the house and find me I have to go out and find the job so here I am," said Jackson.{}

Todd Harwood was in Jackson's shoes one year ago. A recent college grad, he attended last year's fair aboard the Yorktown.

"It was a scary but then once I walked through the doors of the USS Yorktown and you could really see that there are a lot of individuals interested in helping you out," said Harwood.

Harwood is now employed at the VA as a peer support specialist.

"This opportunity to be back is wonderful because it shows the process here does work, not only with the VA but with job fairs catered towards veterans," said Harwood.

This is the fifth year in a row for the event and a VA spokesperson says many of the companies are returning to hire again this year. First Command Financial Planning of South Carolina is one company that plans to keep hiring veterans.

"Their work ethic is No. 1 from our standpoint. The ability to come in and be self-motivated to get the job done no matter what obstacles are put in front of them," said Jeff Richardson, the district advisor for the financial services business.

The event is sponsored by the Ralph Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina works.