Finding a year-round job with benefits and a livable salary is hard enough in southern New Jersey in the current economy, but for veterans like 27-year-old Theodore Bohn of Cape May, who is coming cold into the job market after 11 years in the military, the search has been fruitless.
An Army sergeant, Bohn did separate tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had a job between his tours, but because he was still in a probationary period as a newer hire, his employer was not required to hold the position. Since returning from Afghanistan in January, Bohn has completed countless job applications without any luck. He and his fiancee are expecting a child in March.
Bohn and another Army sergeant, Michael Venzie, 28, of Tuckahoe, attended the Hiring Our Heroes job fair Thursday at the Ocean City Music Pier.
The job fair was part of a nationwide effort to help veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment.
This event was sponsored by the American Legion of Cape May County and hosted by the Morvay/Miley Post 524 in Ocean City.
Post 524 Senior Vice Commander Jim Scanlon said 200 veterans registered in advance for the job fair, which included 52 employers and 11 veterans services agencies. The employers ranged from marine construction companies to banks.
Bohn and Venzie took interest in TMC Transportation, a local trucking company that would pay for training for new hires.
"I'm just looking for something that pays enough to pay the bills," said Bohn, a graduate of Lower Cape May Regional High School.
Like Bohn, Erwin Carey has a child on the way — in his case, twins.
Carey, 28, of Egg Harbor Township, served as a Marine aviation electrician in Japan and is working as a cook for the buffet at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City. Carey attended Thursday's job fair in hopes of finding a job with better hours, better pay and a better future.
New Jersey's Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, Cape May County Freeholders Susan Sheppard, Len Desiderio and Gerald Thornton, and state Parole Board member James Plousis attended the event.
Guadagno was introduced as "Kevin's mom." Her son is in his second year at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. The American Legion post in Wildwood presented Guadagno with a coin commemorating its Vietnam wall.
Hiring Our Heroes job fairs are being held in 400 communities across the U.S. The fairs have helped more than 10,000 veterans and their spouses get hired.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The American Legion, the N.J. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, the N.J. State Library, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development, NBC News, the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce and other local partners contributed to the job fair.