- Written by Megan Joyce Megan Joyce
Current military personnel of all ages, veterans, and their families found benefits information and job opportunities recently at the fourth annual Veterans’ Expo & Job Fair at Spooky Nook Sports, Manheim.
Composed of more than 90 local exhibitors, the day was a two-for-one event presented by OLP Events; admission was free to the public.
The Veterans’ Expo connected active, transitioning, and retired military members with the benefits and resources available to them through local businesses and organizations.
The day’s opening ceremony began with comments from Donna Anderson, president of On-Line Publishers and host of the Veterans’ Expo & Job Fair.
Anderson noted the declining national unemployment rate—down to 4.2 percent in September 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Despite this good news for workers and the economy, some employers are experiencing difficulty hiring qualified candidates from the smaller pool of job seekers.
“We appreciate their ongoing show of support for the veterans in our community by being here today,” Anderson said.
Guest speaker Craig Lehman, Lancaster County commissioner and U.S. Navy veteran, credited his own military experience with setting him on the path toward a college degree and his current role as an elected official.
“So for those employers here, even in a tough job market, if you’re looking for somebody to do the job, to be part of the team and get the job done right, you want to hire a veteran … I’m confident that you won’t be disappointed,” Lehman said. “They bring so much to the table because of their service to this country.”
Peggy Keller, 2011 PA State Senior Idol and 2017 Ms. Pennsylvania Senior America, performed the national anthem; the Red Rose Veterans Honor Guard recognized each branch of service; and Catherine Courreges spoke on the Quilts of Valor program, which honors veterans with custom-made quilts.
Attendees spoke with veterans’ organizations, such as the Pennsylvania State Headquarters VFW and the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, as well as representatives from educational institutions, veterans’ volunteer groups and a range of businesses that offer discounts or services for military members.
Michael and Linda Miller, of Ephrata, hoped the Expo would be a resource for new community activities in which their VFW chapter could participate. Michael Miller, an Air Force veteran, is a VFW member, and Linda Miller is secretary of the auxiliary.
“We’re mainly here just to see the different programs for the veterans,” Linda Miller said. “We do a lot of things with the VAs, so we’re always looking for different ideas.”
Representatives from the Recorder of Deeds office were on hand to help all honorably discharged Lancaster County veterans enroll in the free Thank a Vet veterans discount program.
Veterans and employers met face-to-face to discuss available positions at the Job Fair. Industries present included finance, automotive, warehouse, medical services, administrative/clerical, engineering, management, sales, manufacturing, retail, computer tech/IT, transportation, and others.
Job Fair exhibitor Andrea Cramer, HR manager and training, safety coordinator for Two Dudes Painting Company in Lancaster, said she values what veterans can offer a civilian employer.
“I’ve got relatives that are veterans, so I appreciate that very much,” Cramer said. “[Veterans bring] dedication, reliability—some of those key components of people that have served.”
In the Job Fair’s Resource Center, visitors could participate in mock interviews and resume reviews. Guidance was also available on employment-assistance programs and veterans’ Medicare options.
Frank Eckman, a 9.5-year veteran of the Marine Corps Military Police, was seeking a new job opportunity after an injury had put him out of work.
“I’m pretty much just trying to throw applications out there as much as possible,” Eckman, of Lancaster, said. “I’ve got one job-skill set, so I’m seeing what else is out there … If I get hired, I get hired; if not, at least I’ve spread my wings and [tried to] find something different.”
The Veterans Expo & Job Fair will return to Central Pennsylvania Monday, April 9, 2018, at a new location: Wyndham Hotel York, 200 Loucks Road, York.
For more information, call (717) 285-1350 or visit www.veteransexpo.com.