MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The national unemployment rate for veterans is now at 7 percent. On Wednesday, a group of local job-seeking veterans had a room full of opportunities to get working. The United States Chamber of Commerce, along with local organizations, held a hiring fair at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
Event organizers say they had an overwhelming response from job seekers and employers. More than 200 veterans showed up to the fair just within the first hour. Nearly 45 employers registered for the event, ranging from national corporations to local hotels. Each participating employer had to have a valid job opening in order to participate, and each company attended with at least one representative ready for face-to-face networking with the more than 300 local veterans who signed up.
Marlin Bodison with the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce says veterans returning from active duty no longer have pre-recession job availability.
"In this tough economy like here in the state of South Carolina, a lot of places that they left home from three or four years ago are companies that are either reduced in size, or closed altogether. A lot of those folks were long-term employees in those occupations," explained Bodison.
Maurice Tool with the U.S. Air Force is in the process of leaving the military life behind. Tool says he's ready for what may be a bumpy transition, but still manages to have an optimistic outlook.
"There's a lot of doors open for veterans, more than the past," he said. "A lot of people are getting that veterans bring diverse skill sets. They bring responsibility, integrity. So a lot of people are looking for that."
The United States Chamber of Commerce launched the "Hiring Our Heroes" program to help get veterans back to work. The group promised to get 500,000 veterans employed by the end 2014. Throughout the year they will host hiring fairs like the one at the convention center. For more information on upcoming job fairs and how veterans can upload resumes to their job database, log onto to http://www.uschamber.com/hiringourheroes.