HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - 150 Hawaii employers are looking for a few good men and women to join their ranks. Wednesday's job fair at the Blaisdell was open to the public - with a focus on hiring heroes who've served in the military.
First Lieutenant Jeffrey Galdones has spent 23 years in the Army. But soon, the registered nurse will transition to civilian life. "I'm kind of nervous because, you know, two hospitals just closed down," explains Galdones. "So, I'm really out there, already hunting." (Last month, Hawaii Medical Center's East and West facilities shuttered).
Galdones and thousands others here, including many veterans, are pressing the flesh and filling out applications with prospective employers.
"How you doing? I'm Darryl Mason." The recruiter responds, "Nice to meet you." Navy veteran Darryl Mason is searching for physical therapy work, and he's doing what he can to get an edge. "I'm in the job readiness training program, and I feel like I'm a person of integrity, who's reliable, dependable, and punctual," says Mason.
The Veterans Administration says more than 13% of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are currently unemployed. So the V.A. and organizations, like Hawaii's Jobquest, are holding job fairs around the country, and the Obama administration is offering tax credits to employers who hire veterans.
"There are quite a few jobs here and more than we had last year," explains Beth Busch of Success Advertising Hawaii, the organizer of the job fair. "Wal-Mart is hiring for 300 people."
They call one part of the exhibit hall The Green Zone. Obviously, it's a different kind of green zone than the one formerly in Iraq. Here, it's all about renewable energy jobs.
Companies, big and small, turned out at the fair. Tanioka's Seafood and Catering says veterans make great employees.
"They've just been wonderful because they've been on time. They work hard. They come with a lot of experience. They're just so respectful," says Jasmine Tanioka. The business has eight job openings, and by lunchtime, Tanioka's had a stack of 500 applicants. In fact, job fair organizers tallied the numbers, and 3,500 job seekers turned out over the course of the five-hour fair.
It'd be easy if workers were all like Roger Montero - a 67 year old Vietnam veteran who's just not ready to retire. "No, I think it's easy to get a job. You just gotta be yourself, and you gotta think positive."