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Community comes together for Veterans job fair

John Ortiz, a 21-year, Army Veteran, speaks with Jilma Graham, a VA outreach coordinator, who is walking him through the process of applying for healthcare at the Miami VA.

A Veteran, speaks with Jilma Graham, a VA outreach coordinator, who is walking him through the process of applying for healthcare at the Miami VA.

By J. Elise Van Pool
Wednesday, March 6, 2013

South Florida employers and government organizations came together Feb. 21, to host a job fair for local Veterans. Local elected officials, the Departments of Labor and Veterans Affairs all worked to organize the event held at Miami-Dade College in Kendall, FL.

"[Department of Labor], is committed to helping Veterans find good jobs," said Millie Herrera, Southeast regional representative for the secretary of labor.

Herrera and other organizations specifically reached out to the business community, working with local chambers of commerce and workforce development boards. The fair hosted about 30 local businesses all wanting to hire veterans. The businesses ranged from construction companies to new technology companies.

"It's amazing to have so many good business show up," said Herrera.

"I think it's a great opportunity," said John Ortiz, a 21-year, Army Veteran. "People want to assist, but don't know how. This makes [reintegration] much easier.”

Ortiz recently retired from the Army and was looking for a position after one he had secured before leaving the Army fell through. "When you're in a setting like this [leaving the Army] hits home a little more," Ortiz said.

Over 100 Veterans attended the event that lasted approximately six hours.

This fair is just one of many the Department of Labor is organizing around the country to help Veterans who are experiencing a higher rate of unemployment, said Herrera.

"We are on their side," said Herrera, "We're here for them."

"This community has said ‘present' we're here to help," said Pepe Diaz, Miami-Dade county commissioner and chair of the Miami-Dade Military Affairs Committee, who helped organize the event. "Helping our veterans is extremely important."

Outreach specialists from the Miami VA were also on hand to speak with Veterans and the employers present to educate them about what benefits are available to Veterans.

"Its very important to use because they see other Vets and we can educate the vendors about what VA can do," said Jilma Graham, outreach coordinator at the Miami VA.

The mobile assistance center from the South Florida workforce Investment Board was also there to allow Veterans to get assistance developing their resumes and putting in applications online.

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