More than 20 veterans from the mid-Maryland region attended the inaugural Veterans Job Club in Carroll County Friday and LeRoy Thomas has no doubt that attendance will grow in future events.
"I'm very confident it will grow," said Thomas, a local veterans employment representative. "They [veterans] came here to witness it, and I know they're going to promote it."
Sponsored by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulations, the event at the Business and Employment Resource Center (BERC) in Westminster brought together 13 employers and about two dozen veterans to discuss job openings and county services available to veterans.
"This is more than an information fair," Thomas said. "This is intended to get people ready for employment."
Businesses represented at the event included local and regional employers, such as Carroll Area Transit System (CATS), Lowe's, T. Rowe Price, Prudential Insurance, and the Social Security Administration.
The state department of labor, licensing, and regulations hosted a similar event in Columbia Feb. 28 and will continue to host job clubs in Columbia and Westminster on a bimonthly basis.
The next event in Columbia is scheduled for April 25 with the next Westminster event set for May 23.
Sykesville resident Robert Barker, who served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan, called the events "fantastic."
Barker attended both the Columbia and Westminster events said that while the job fields represented weren't a match for his career, it was still a good opportunity to network.
"When I run into a young veteran, this is the first thing I'll tell them about," he said.
For Taneytown resident Ruth Barealo, the job club offered her contacts with employers and notification of veterans services, such as federal job resume assistance, that she wasn't aware of.
"It was definitely very helpful, very interesting," said Barealo, who served more than eight years as an Army counterintelligence agent.
Mike Sater, assistant adjutant with the Maryland chapter of Disabled American Veterans and a Vietnam veteran, said Friday's event and upcoming job clubs are "great opportunities" for veterans to find a job or change careers.
"To me, this is exciting," he said. "This is wonderful."
For more information on upcoming job club events, contact Kurt Hider with the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program at 410-386-2849.