Thousands of military veterans come home every year. They sometimes come from a life of war and are thrown into the civilian world where, for anyone, finding a job is tough. One local company is trying to change that.
Haskins Steel has been around for 58 years and through that time many wars. You can bet that with their emphasis on hiring veterans you're bound to fun into someone on the warehouse floor who has served in those wars.
"I went to Iraq three times, got deployed to Okinawa once, " Derek Blomquist-Worley said.
At his desk Wednesday, Blomquist-Worley is worlds away from his life as a Marine Corps infantryman. The husband and father planned on a 20-year military career but injuries to his knees wouldn't allow it.
"I felt that I had nothing there, I didn't have a purpose, I didn't have a plan, I didn't know what I was going to do, " Bloomquist-Worley said.
Eventually, his father-in-law, an employee at Haskins Steel, suggested Blomquist-Worley also apply or a job at the company.
"Aside from my Marine Corps career I really had no job experience to throw on a resume," Blomquist-Worley remembered.
He was in luck because Haskins Steel gives preferential treatment to veterans. He started on the warehouse floor and worked his way up seven years later to his current position as their Inventory Allocation Specialist. He works full-time and is also going to school full-time to earn his degree in accounting.
Back out on the warehouse floor, you'll find Ryan Bludau.
"A lot of employers don't realize how much training and how much experience military guys get – or military women as well, " Bludau said.
The Air Force veteran, who spent nine years at Fairchild Air Force Base, is a father of four and also welcomes two foster children into his home. He's thankful for the work, of course, and also the camaraderie at Haskins Steel.
"I think it's really great that Haskins tries really hard to get veterans and help veterans get on their feet in the civilian world, I think it's wonderful, " Bludau said.
Blomquist-Worley and Bludau are among the 22 veterans that make up Haskins Steel's workforce.
"It's the right thing to do, it's the patriotic thing to do, so it's become our mission, " Craig Dias said.
Dias, the Vice President and General Manger of Haskins Steel, has been with the company for eight years. For some employers the stigma of serving in a war can deter them from giving a veteran a chance, but not for Dias – he sees the value in our veterans. They have a work ethic ingrained in them from years of military service.
Your company can hire someone with these values and skills, too, at a veterans job fair on September 20th. Operation Spokane Heroes is organizing the event and Haskins Steel is one of the sponsors.
"We're trying to get businesses to step up, to register, to have a booth there, " Dias said.
Bludau and Blomquist-Worley know first hand the good things that lie ahead when you hire a veteran.
"If you give the veteran a chance I think he'll prove that it's better than being wary of what might happen, " Blomquist-Worley said.
Employers and veterans can follow this link to register for the job fair.