One of the greatest challenges facing our nation is unemployment.
This problem is especially severe for those in the National Guard and Reserve and for those leaving active military service. Many of these men and women return home to an uncertain future due to a tough job market.
The average rate of unemployment among post-9/11 veterans for the past 12 months was 10.4 percent. Additionally, more than one in four military spouses is without employment.
With one million service members and their families slated to re-enter the civilian job market in the next five years, this situation threatens to get much worse.
That's why last year Gov. Steve Beshear brought together our military, veteran, education and work-force leaders to create Hiring Kentucky Heroes, an initiative designed to connect veterans with job openings in the commonwealth.
All agency partners in this project have been involved in numerous programs to retrain veterans and help them find new employment.
The group is working to provide better access to training and education opportunities, state and national job banks, job fairs and hiring incentives.
To that end, Hiring Kentucky Heroes is now partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to conduct a Hiring Our Heroes Kentucky job fair and employment assistance workshop on Feb. 20 and 21, at the Crowne Plaza Airport Expo Center in Louisville. This is part of a nationwide effort to help veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment.
Military experience provides an edge that carries over to responsibilities in the civilian work force, a dynamic that makes companies stronger and more efficient.
However, making that transition involves more than changing your uniform. It means translating that military experience into skills employers require. This event is designed to assist our veterans in doing just that.
In addition, the employment assistance workshop will offer resume writing and interview skill training.
Supporting organizations and other veteran-related agencies will also be available to provide attendees with information regarding state and federal benefits.
On Feb. 21, participants will have the unique opportunity to use their newly learned employment skills to interview with local employers at the job fair.
This event is free for job seekers and employers and is specially designed for individuals with a military background. I encourage our veterans to take advantage of this opportunity to hone your unique skills.
Hiring veterans presents a powerful business opportunity. Veterans have experience, skills, dedication and training that are valuable to employers and their communities.
For more information about the job fair, go to Governor.ky.gov/HiringKyHeroes/Pages/jobfair.aspx.
Ken Lucas is commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veteran Affairs.