Airman 1st Class Andrew Mapley speaks with a representative of the U.S. Border Patrol during the Hiring Our Heroes job fair at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., Sept. 16, 2012. Mapley, a student at Mid-Michigan Community College and a member of the 127th Civil Engineer Squadron at Selfridge, attended the job fair to explore possible career opportunities in law enforcement. More than 600 veterans attended the fair at Selfridge, visiting with representatives from more than 80 employers. (Air National Guard photo by TSgt. David Kujawa)
More than 600 veterans and military members attended the Hiring Our Heroes job fair at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., Sept. 16, 2012. During the fair, the veterans were able to visit with representatives from more than 80 employers. (Air National Guard photo by TSgt. David Kujawa)
9/16/2012 - SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- More than 600 veterans and current military members packed a Hiring our Heroes job fair at Selfridge Air National Guard Base Sept. 16, 2012, where they were able to speak to more than 80 potential employers and another two dozen colleges and other service providers.
The job fair was organized at the base to assist unemployed and underemployed members of the military Reserve and National Guard forces find work.
"Having our Guard and Reserve members suffering financially due to employment issues is simply unacceptable," said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Dobson, 127th Wing command chief and an organizer of the event. "As we started organizing the fair, we wanted to extend the invitation to our local veteran community as well to honor those who have already completed their service."
Frank Leritz, a senior engineering associate at General Motors, said he was eager to serve as a representative of the automaker at the event at Selfridge.
"When I was discharged in 1973, after serving in Vietnam, I went to the unemployment office. They gave me a slip and I took that to the Chrysler Stamping Plant in Sterling Heights and they hired me because I was a new veteran," Leritz said. "I've been trying to pay that forward ever since."
Now, Leritz has a son in the Army - and he, too, will be a veteran in the future.
Leritz said despite the challenges in the economy, there are jobs in the automotive sector. Representatives from both the white- and blue-collar workforce at GM were at the fair.
"GM needs people who have leadership qualities, who can be trained to work on complex projects," he said. "People in uniform have those qualities already."
Several veterans who had worked in the supply field in the military spoke with Leritz said the Sunday afternoon fair. The GM rep said the company has openings in the supply chain and logistics area.
"We might have some good fits there," he said.
Airman 1st Class Andrew Mapley is still relatively new to the military world. He enlisted in the Michigan Air National Guard about a year ago and recently returned to Michigan after completing his initial active duty period for training. A student at Mid-Michigan Community College and a member of the 127th Civil Engineer Squadron., Mapley is interested in a career in criminal justice or law enforcement.
"Right now, I'm just exploring, talking to some people, seeing what the options are," he said, after having a short chat with a recruiter from the U.S. Border Patrol, a federal law enforcement agency.
Also exploring job options at the career fair was Airman Paul Levert, who serves with the 127th Force Support Squadron Services Flight at Selfridge. He works as a stocker in a retail store now, but is looking for options.
"I think I'd like to do something with computers or work with people," he said.
Central Macomb Credit Union was among the employers present and credit union officials spoke with dozens of military members and veterans.
"We know the character of the people who serve at Selfridge," said Drema Isaac, the CEO of the credit union. "They have structure and integrity, which is needed in today's workforce."