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Summit to help employers hire vets

Date: 5/15/2012

May 14, 2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD — Organizers of an up-coming event to help veterans find jobs are asking area employers to attend a Veterans' Workforce Summit at Western New England University (WNE) on June 6 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Thomas Belton, the veterans' service agent for the city of Springfield, explained to Reminder Publications that some employers need assistance to "navigate the maze" to hire veterans.

Belton said that 81 percent of the military personnel coming back into civilian life experience problems trying to find jobs that are suitable to their experience. He added that 12 percent of veterans from Sept. 11, 2001 to the present are unemployed and 25 percent of the veterans younger than the age of 25 are unemployed.

Belton said he believes the summit is the first of its type for Western Massachusetts and may be the first of its kind in the Commonwealth.

The event will educate employers about the many benefits in employing veterans, including tax incentives. Belton said it would also address "outdated perceptions" about vets, including that all veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. According to Belton, recent surveys and polls have found that many human resource managers don't understand how military skills translate into non-military job qualifications.

Many firms use automated systems to analyze resumes submitted by job applicants and Belton said that some employers "really don't know how to look at vets' resumes."

Because so many of the vets are not active duty members of the military, but reservists or members of the National Guard with multiple deployments, Belton said that returning to jobs held by employers has been an issue.

Stating that he didn't want to criticize employers, he did say, "Some of the vets slip through the cracks."

Many veterans today require additional education to be prepared for the job market, Belton said.

"Colleges campuses may not always be conducive to [the needs] of vets," he added. He doesn't believe colleges and universities should make "special accommodations" for vets, but rather should set up programs that would allow vets to find one another for support. He praised the local community colleges for their efforts to support vets.

Interested employers should go to to register for the free summit.

The city of Springfield Veterans' Services Department, Department of Veterans Affairs, WNE and Springfield College sponsor the program along with other partners.

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