Hundreds of vets turn out for "Hiring Our Heroes" job fair

SPOKANE, Wash. - Vet job fair

Hundreds of veterans looking for work turned out Friday for the "Hiring Our Heroes" event at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center.

Organizers say they saw a need and made it happen and before doors opened 300 veterans had already pre-registered for the job fair.

The transition from military life to civilian life can be a tough road; finding a job is one of many hurdles on that journey. However the US Chamber of Commerce's "Hiring Our Heroes" event is looking to make that transition easier by hosting a job fair open only to veterans.

"The other nice thing is, it's also open to spouses as well as military family members," said Phillip Maas with "Hiring Our Heroes."

"Hiring Our Heroes" just celebrated its 600th event; Friday's job fair in Spokane is the first they've held in Eastern Washington.

"You've got 82 employers that stepped up. You've got a ton of local sponsorship that showed up and said, 'Hey, we really want to be a part of this,'" said Maas.

By noon, close to 500 veterans or active military were in attendance. Airman Michael Stevenson was one of them.

"I'll be retiring next summer actually," Stevenson, who is currently serving at Fairchild Air Force Base, said.

Planning ahead, Stevenson stopped at the Caterpillar table to discuss his experience in transportation logistics, but that's not his only desirable quality.

"Integrity, teamwork, accountability the safety culture that is instilled in them is really aligned with who we are how we operate as a business," said Cameron Pickett, employment coordinator for Caterpillar.

Caterpillar was looking to fill 10 local jobs at the event Friday.

"They're here for us vets and they do have an opening that I'm interested in. I may have to relocate for that position but we all have to relocate being in the military for 20 years," said Stevenson.

At each event "Hiring Our Heroes" looks to place more vets into the workforce.

"We're really looking to boost that percentage and we'd like to start that here today," said Maas.

That's why the event also hosts an employee workshop to help vets with interview skills, resumes and how to navigate the job fair, making sure they put their best foot forward.

On average, 10 to 15 percent of veterans who attend a "Hiring Our Heroes" event will walk away with a new job.