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Oregon Leaders Rally to Promote New Job Opportunities

Jim Linkous, addresses members in attendance on June 4th, 2010, for the Yellow Ribbon event held at the Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore. Linkous was the host of the event and is the Regional Vice President of Viawest. (US Air Force Photograph by Staff Sgt John Hughel, Oregon National Guard Public Affairs)

Jim Linkous, addresses members in attendance on June 4th, 2010, for the Yellow Ribbon event held at the Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore. Linkous was the host of the event and is the Regional Vice President of Viawest. (US Air Force Photograph by Staff Sgt John Hughel, Oregon National Guard Public Affairs)

Portland Air National Guard Base, PORTLAND, ORE -- The Portland Air National Guard Base hosted over 200 employers from Oregon and Southwest Washington June 4th, 2010 to help promote hiring of Veterans and retuning National Guard members.

Addressing those in attendance, U.S. Senators from Oregon Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley, and Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski each stressed the need for local employers to consider hiring veterans with demonstrated leadership skills.

"Our military veterans who have served to protect our rights overseas need our support when they come back home," said Wyden.

With close to 3,000 Oregon National Guard Soldiers and Airmen recently returning from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other world-wide deployments, the emphasis on getting Guardsmen back to work was the focus of the event.

Event organizer Jim Linkous, Regional Vice President of ViaWest, a data management company was in attendance and talked about the importance of the event.

"We had over 200 employers attend this event and another 200 others who were asking about how they can get involved in the future. The key is to educate employers about who the Oregon National Guard is, the men and women that serve and who these people are who defend our freedoms", said Linkous.

"The bigger question is how do we do as a community step-up and meet those needs of these returning heroes", said Linkous.

With a job market that is already saturated, one of the biggest challenges is to determine what stage of the job search veterans are in. One company that has played a large role in reintegrating returning veterans from deployment is i-Op, Inc.

"We can set up an automated on-line interview so we can find out where these returning veterans are in the process, whether they are going to school or looking for a job, and then meet those needs in an intelligent conversation," said Thompson Morrison, CEO of i-Op Inc.

"What we're concerned with is constructing a support system and to build networks where members can get beyond resumes and the past models of finding jobs," said Thompson.

Many veterans returning to the work force are finding that networking is a much more effective way to find a job that is best suited for their unique skill sets. Getting employers to recognize the distinct talents that service members have developed from years of training and deployments can be a test at first, yet many find veterans more than up for the challenge.

"What we want employers to know, is that these men and women have taken on amazing challenges and circumstances while they have done tremendous work in their career fields," said Linkous.

The emphasis on creating the right fit in the job market for returning service members was stressed by many at the event as a key to sustainable long-term employment.

Having new business leaders and evolving technology representatives attend the event also spurred companies to look at the unique skill-sets of returning veterans.

"After listening to the presentation today I sense a natural synergy between where my company is heading and where we might be able to work with civil engineers in the military," said Susan Safford, BEST Operations Director.

The Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technology Center, an independent nonprofit organization established by the Oregon legislature, is helping provide a shift to green technologies and working with energy efficient products in retrofitting buildings.

"This seems to offer a great opportunity for the private sector to utilize the mechanical and electrical knowledge that veterans already have and can now use in the private sector," said Safford.

As additional Guardsmen and other veterans begin to reintegrate back to their home bases and armories, events and job training that focus on new technology both in finding jobs and working smarter will only continue to be in the forefront for employers to find new employees.

"We want our heroes to come home and receive the rewards they fought for during their deployments," said Linkous.