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Job Expo At PNC Park To Connect Veterans With New Careers

Federal programs are capitalizing on training and development for veterans re-entering an already booming workforce.

But despite the options, Eric Eversole, president and senior advisor of the national Hiring Our Heroes initiative, said it can still be tough for former service men and women tofind a meaningful career

“For a lot of young service members and their families, the first question is, ‘What do I want to do? What am I passionate about?’ and, ‘Where does that opportunity exist?’” said . “We need them to start to open up their aperture as to what real economic opportunity looks like in this country.”

The national unemployment rate for veterans is 4.5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Pennsylvania, it's slightly higher at 4.7 percent -- still a historic low, down from numbers as high as 12 percent in 2011. Hiring Our Heroes pairs veterans with jobs as part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Its organizers are hosting a job expo from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at PNC Park.

Eversole said Pittsburgh’s growth in recent years has made the city an attractive place for vets re-entering the civilian workforce. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated 87,809 veterans lived in Allegheny County in 2015. 

“Even though there’s not a major military installation in Allegheny County, a lot of young men and women are joining the services and then they come back home because they know there’s great economic opportunity that’s being created every day in Pittsburgh,” Eversole said.

Hiring Our Heroes has a good record of finding those vets jobs, Eversole said. Based on past performance, he estimated more than 15 percent of the expo’s attendees will be working within a couple of months.

Events like expos can be helpful for veterans, not just for finding jobs, but also as a tool to help them secure satisfying long-term careers, he said. Fewer families are touched by wartime service than in previous generations, so many civilians don't know how military skills relate to non-military jobs. Likewise, many veterans struggle to articulate their skills in a way civilians can understand, so thousands of overqualified former servicemen and women find "dead-end" jobs, but leave within their first year of employment.

“These employers are looking to hire, they want to hire," Eversole said. "And so what I tell veterans and military spouses is make sure you’re ready when you come to this one."

Registration can be found on U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation website.