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Employers from diverse backgrounds filled the American Legion Post 113 on Ring Road on Thursday, courting veterans in the hunt for a career transition or a new source of income.
The Hire a Patriot job fair brought men and women together representing divergent demographics, all looking for an opportunity to network and share their skill sets with others. Some job seekers had career choices in mind, while others said they were testing the waters to see what was available.
Drew Pumarejo, an Elizabethtown resident, is closing in on a coveted bachelor’s degree after serving more than three decades in the U.S. Army.
“When 9/11 came, my personal stuff got set aside,” he said. “It was time to serve my country.”
A student at Western Kentucky University and retired command sergeant major, Pumarejo is nearing the end of his course requirements and was speaking to organizations at the fair this week as he seeks employment with a focus on organizational leadership. He said he would prefer to find a job as an instructor so he could pass on his knowledge to others.
“Serving the community is really what I want to do,” he said. “I want to pay it forward.”
The job fair, he added, helped him in the search.
“This is outstanding,” he said. “It’s wonderful to know our community cares.”
Radcliff residents Jennifer Lopez and Kathryn Bell said they were sizing up their options on the job market and taking advantage of what was available to them. Lopez said she had an interest in counseling and therapy while Bell was focused on healthcare administration. Both women previously served in the Army.
Bell said she was appreciative of the fair but was trying to process everything going on.
“I think it’s great,” she said. “It’s slightly overwhelming, though.”
Joseph Irwin, an Elizabethtown resident and Army veteran, mingled in the crowd as he honed his sights on the Elizabethtown Police Department, referencing his background in law enforcement while serving in the military and his overall love for the profession.
“That’s what I base my whole career around,” he said.
Irwin welcomed the fair because of its exclusivity for veterans, allowing them to have their own personal networking moments with local companies and industries. He said it was an opportunity he missed out on the first time, even as his friends were attending fairs and making connections.
“It’s nice, definitely nice,” he said. “It makes all the world of difference.”
The job fair also proved beneficial to organizations searching for dependable employees to fill vacancies.
Tim Snapp, military outreach manager for Bellevue University, said his own military experience drives him to assist those who are transitioning from active duty to the workforce.
“I spent most of my military career bringing people into the Army,” he said. “Now I’m helping them get out.”
Part of this work is educating veterans on what options are available to them, he said. Snapp said the programs offered by the private, nonprofit university allows veterans to earn degrees online and at home, which can prove helpful for those employed and busy.
“If they don’t know the programs Bellevue has (available), I don’t feel like I’m doing a service to them,” he said.
Chris Griggers, general manager of TravelCenters of America and Petro Stopping Centers in Glendale, said the company is looking for diesel technicians and employees to fill management roles across the country.
“We really like the military” when looking for new hires, he said.
Griggers said the combination of training and work ethic exhibited by the military produces attractive applicants.
“Their type of lifestyle fits well with us,” he said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.