Family Matters Blog: Royal Couple Attends Spouse Hiring Fair
By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 14, 2011 A buzz filled the air as military spouses and veterans gathered to welcome a world-famous military couple to Sony Pictures Studios’ Stage 15 in Culver City, Calif. Prince William and his wife, Catherine, had decided to make a military spouse and veteran hiring fair the final stop of their whirlwind West Coast tour last weekend.
I watched from a riser as the royal newlyweds walked in to resounding applause, my view momentarily obstructed by a sea of camera-equipped smartphones and iPads held high by people eager to capture the moment.
They walked onto the stage and the Duke of Cambridge, also a search and rescue pilot in the Royal Air Force, addressed the crowd of more than 1,500 spouses and veterans and about 160 employers.
This event is about more than men and women in uniform, he said. “It is about our other halves -- the half that makes the loved one’s duty and sacrifice possible and worthwhile. It is about you.”
The minute the royal couple left, spouses and veterans got back to the business at hand -- finding a job. The fair, sponsored by ServiceNation: Mission Serve, the U.S. and Los Angeles Area Chambers of Commerce, and the Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry, was the largest of 100 spouse and veteran hiring fairs slated to take place across the country over the next year.
Spouses and veterans quickly crowded potential employers’ booths, resumes and pens in hand. I randomly picked a few out of the crowd to interview and was instantly impressed at their credentials. I spoke to spouses with master’s and doctorate degrees, and to veterans with extensive experience leading people and managing equipment.
One attendee I spoke to, Melissa Burton, an Air Force veteran and now an Air Force spouse, said she would like to bring both her education and Air Force experience to bear.
“It’s a great thing to find companies willing to work with us,” said Burton, who recently earned her master of business administration degree and whose husband is stationed at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. “I lived in Okinawa for a few years, and it was hard; it took me about a year to find a job. I’m looking forward to what this day will bring me.”
The employers seemed just as eager to connect with the job seekers. Spouses and veterans have the skills they need, many told me, from flexibility to punctuality to organizational expertise.
Ross Cohen, director of ServiceNation: Mission Serve and a military veteran, called veterans and military spouses “civic assets” who possess an “extraordinary set of skills and experiences.” Employers need resourceful and reliable employees, and veterans and military families are just that, he said.
“The bottom line is companies and nonprofits and government should be recruiting veterans and military spouses not because it is the right thing to do for the country, but because it is good for business,” he added.
For more on the hiring fair, see my American Forces Press Service articles, Royal Couple Visits Spouses, Veterans at Job Fair and Veterans, Spouses Laud ‘Hiring Our Heroes’ Job Fair.
For spouses who would like to explore employment opportunities and connect with employers, visit the Military Spouse Employment Partnership website.
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