LINCOLN (AP) — Nebraska officials are launching a new campaign to find jobs for military veterans, increase the state's population and help employers recruit quality workers, Gov. Dave Heineman said Tuesday.
The effort includes a new series of Nebraska job fairs aimed at veterans, as well as a four-minute online video in which Heineman — a veteran himself — makes a personal sales pitch.
"Nebraska hires veterans," Heineman said at a news conference. "We have the jobs that fit their skill sets, and employers who appreciate the quality that veterans bring to the work force."
The campaign is targeting veterans who have recently left the military, most of whom are younger and willing to move to new places, said Catherine Lang, director of the Nebraska Department of Labor. The state has already helped organize a series of job fairs in Lincoln, Omaha and Norfolk that drew more than 600 veterans and 200 employers.
The department also offers career assessment and counseling services, assistance with resume and interview preparations, and access to job-placement programs, Heineman said. Lang added that those programs are serving more than 8,000 veterans statewide.
Heineman, a former Army Ranger, said veterans offer the work ethic, discipline and skill sets desired by employers. And with the nation's second-lowest unemployment rate, he said, more Nebraska employers are looking to hire. For example, he said, some businesses are willing to pay $60,000 a year as a starting salary for welders.
"I feel very strongly as a veteran that it's our patriotic duty to help these men and women," Heineman said. "They've done so much for us. And secondly, we have the opportunities now."
Heineman said campaign targets veterans with Nebraska ties, but also those who have traveled the world and are seeking a permanent home.
The video, which cost $6,000, was produced by the Nebraska Department of Labor to attract job-seeking veterans to the state.
Lang said more "Hiring Our Heroes" job fairs are scheduled for Alliance on Dec. 4, Papillion on Jan. 16 and Beatrice on Feb. 5. The program is co-sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Included in the video was TJ Chrastil, an Army National Guard veteran who spent a year in Iraq before returning to his native state. Chrastil, 28, works for News Link, a Lincoln-based business that produces company newsletters.
"The economy's good here, and I can get good educational opportunities," Chrastil said. "When the country gets hit economically, Nebraska's usually pretty sound."