Posted at: 10/11/2012 5:13 PM
Updated at: 10/11/2012 5:17 PM
By: Gordon Severson
(ABC 6 News) -- A big day for veterans in our area, many hoping to find a job during Thursday’s Hiring our Heroes event at the Rochester International Event Center.
For Army Sergeant Jesse Kelly of Pine Island, it's not the candy and food, the free pens, or even the foam turkeys that have him going booth to booth. It's the promise of a job.
"Saw it online, the little advertisements and one of the National Guard guys up in Bloomington had emailed me about it too," Kelly says.
After four years of active duty, including one year in Iraq, Kelly is hoping to take advantage of his degree in political science and his experience with computers to find a job.
"I'm really trying to open my opportunities here. I did intelligence with the Army and I'm in the National Guard right now," Kelly explains.
He's just one of many soldiers looking to land one of 400 jobs with 80 employers.
"We have a goal set at the end of 2014 of hiring half a million veterans and spouses and we can't do that without events like this," says U.S Chamber of Commerce Representative Shawn Carter.
Kelly is hoping to become part of that statistic.
"I’m looking for employment in the Rochester area,” Kelly tells an employer.
Even though he would like to have a job sooner rather than later, he has a realistic approach and realizes it could take some time.
"Even if it's not exactly what I'm looking for, I'm willing to consider something just to get back in the work force and be making a stable income again," Kelly explains.
Each employer at Thursday’s job fair was required to have at least five job openings.
Organizers say this rule narrowed down the list to 80 companies who were serious about hiring vets.