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Saturday, Apr 19, 2014
Military News

Altman: Tampa job fair Tuesday for veterans, spouses

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The job picture for veterans who served since 9/11 is improving slightly, according to figures released Friday by the Department of Labor.

A year ago, those veterans had a jobless rate of 10.3 percent. The figures released Friday show that dropped to 9.2 percent. Women veterans still have it worse, with the unemployment rate for them at 11.8 percent, compared to 8.7 percent for men.

And all those numbers are worse than the overall unemployment rate of 7.6 percent. And not nearly as good as the 7.1 percent unemployment rate for all veterans.

To help veterans find jobs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is holding a job fair in Tampa on Tuesday.

The foundation, along with lead sponsor SunTrust, will host “Hiring Our Heroes — Tampa,” a hiring fair for veterans and military spouses. More than 40 employers are expected to participate, with jobs available for veterans of all ranks and levels of experience and their spouses. Companies range from America’s biggest employers to dozens of small companies from the region.

Since its launch in March 2011, Hiring Our Heroes has been able to help more than 100,000 veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment, the foundation states.

The job fair will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ragan Community Center, 1200 E. Lake Ave., Tampa. Interested job seekers should register for free at hoh.greatjob.net. Walk-in job seekers are allowed but veterans must provide proof of service.

So far, 240 veterans and spouses have enrolled, with another 100 likely to show up Tuesday.

Some advice from the organizers:

Veterans are encouraged to bring a one-page resume highlighting their military training (classes, awards, deployments) and past job experience. They should be dressed to impress (on-the-spot interview style). And they should have a 90-second elevator speech ready to go since it’s all about starting up a conversation, not just asking for a job. Be prepared to talk about yourself and why you would be an outstanding candidate.

In three decades in journalism, I have met world leaders, four-stars and even the Dalai Lama, but one of my favorite interview subjects was Dora Dougherty, who helped Col. Paul Tibbets prove that the B-29 was safe to fly.

I met Dougherty, 91, at a nursing home in Lutz, where she was staying. It was just before Christmas and she regaled me with the story of her life as an aviation pioneer who joined the Woman’s Airforce Service Pilots program, or WASP. The program was designed to provide a pool of pilots who could fly domestic military missions, such as ferrying aircraft and towing anti-aircraft targets, so men could fly combat.

Dougherty, who joined and graduated in 1943, said her class of 68 women included an actress, a reporter and a casino worker. A curator at the Smithsonian likened it to “A League of Their Own” with airplanes.

In 1944, Tibbets was preparing for a mission that would drop the world’s first atomic bomb. But the plane he would fly, the B-29, had a terrible reputation and many male pilots were afraid to fly it.

Enter Dougherty, one of two women at the time checked out to fly it. She did, showed that it could be done, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Listening to Dougherty was fascinating. You could get a chance to listen to her, and other WASPs, in person at the 39th Annual Sun ‘N Fun Fly-in and International Expo in Lakeland. Dougherty is scheduled to speak at the event’s WASP Luncheon and Forum at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

Dougherty is one of eight WASPs scheduled to be on the program.

Tickets are $18 a person. For more information, contact Nancy Wright at (727) 946-1050 or a1greek@gmail.com.

Speaking of Sun ‘N Fun, the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital and Clinic Outreach Team will be at the event to help veterans register for benefits.

Six staffers a day will help veterans obtain returning service member/veteran transition assistance, facilitate on-site enrollment and provide information about health care programs.

The outreach program will run the course of the Fly-In, April 9-14 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Veterans are encouraged to bring their DD214s and stop by the James A. Haley Mobile Outreach Van.

The Pentagon announced the deaths of two troops last week in Afghanistan.

Capt. James Michael Steel, 29, born in Tampa, died April 3 in the crash of an F-16 near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

Chief Warrant Officer Curtis S. Reagan, 43, of Summerville, S.C., died March 29 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related illness. He was assigned to the 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

There have now been 2,179 U.S. troop deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the nation’s longest war.


haltman@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7629

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