Florence Torres-Roman, an Army veteran, single mother of two and soon-to-be West Palm Beach resident, walked around the veterans job fair with her portfolio in hand.
While she didn’t expect to get a job right there on the spot, she said, she now has the tools and resources that can help her find that job.
“It’s been a blessing,” she said about the job fair put on by the West Palm Beach Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Saturday.
Mary Ann Goodman, public affairs officer for the VA, said this is the third time they’ve had a job fair and hope to make it an annual event for area veterans so all their needs can be met in one place. While there are representatives from multiple federal and private-sector jobs, she said, the medical center’s workforce is made up 32 percent veterans.
“And 49 percent of our hiring this fiscal year has been veterans,” she said.
At the fair, tables for federal agencies such as the Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Drug Enforcement Administration lined the atrium of the medical center.
She said one of the main things staff does is show veterans how to use the federal government’s official USAJOBS website, and help them create accounts where all their information and paperwork, such as military service records, can be stored and sent. She said some might even have trouble working a computer, so this gives them first-hand experience.
Dunsleys Vallandares , came to the United States from Cuba when he was 16, graduated high school and then joined the National Guard. He served from 2003 to 2007, including two tours of Iraq, and said he’s been lucky enough to go back to school and do work-study with CareerSource Research Coast. The private, non-profit organization, which has services specifically geared toward veterans to help them search for jobs, was at the job fair Saturday.
“I’ve met veterans who didn’t know how to make their resume to others who didn’t even know they needed one,” he said.
Vallandares said the job is rewarding because it’s not only helping individuals succeed get jobs, it’s helping his fellow veterans.
“It’s amazing,” he said.
The VA also offers transitional work experience for veterans. Connie Gallon, a lead vocational rehabilitation specialist with the VA, said this six-month program gives one-on-one assistance with disabled veterans. She said staff will go to their workplaces with the individuals, if needed, and help them buy equipment they might need for their jobs . Even though it is not a full-time position, some veterans are hired by the VA before their six months are up.