Veterans can make ‘loyal, dependable’ workers

Kevin Spradlin Richmond County Daily Journal

November 8, 2013

Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris and City Clerk Gwendolyn Swinney helped declare “Employ a Veteran Week” in the city on Friday at City Hall.

Monday is Veterans Day, but Benjamin Thomas wanted to get a jump start on the the recent addition to his job description. Thomas’s new task: to empower veterans in Richmond County and help them earn and keep jobs.

Thomas works for the Division of Workforce Solutions under the North Carolina Department of Commerce. As veterans program supervisor, Thomas takes the task of preparing veterans for life outside the military to a whole new level.

Thomas divides his time between learning employers’ needs and meeting with veterans in order to help their application materials to best showcase their military skills. His is a coordinated effort, one that takes into account strong partnerships with local chapters of the Disabled Veterans of America, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and, in Laurinburg, the Scotland County Veterans Council.

It’s his job, Thomas said, to “bring all that together” and combine the power of those resources and people into a regional networking opportunity and job search for veterans.

Thomas, of Fayetteville, recently was asked to expand his territory of Hoke and Scotland counties to include Richmond County. He started on Election Day. He’s inviting any veteran looking for a job to the Scotland County Career and Resource Fair on Thurday beginning at 9 a.m.

The fair is located at the National Guard Armory, 1520 S. Main St. in Laurinburg. Twenty-six of the 38 organizations represented at the fair are trying to fill existing vacancies. For more information, call the Scotland County JobLink at 910-276-4260.

The day before the fair, the Scotland County JobLink is hosting a workshop to help veterans prepare for job interviews and offer tips to “dress for success.” The workshop is from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Thomas, a retired Army Staff Sergeant originally from Mount Gilead, believes that veterans can make the best types of workers because they’re “dedicated, loyal, committed (and) dependable.”

His office helped place 25 veterans in jobs in 2012 and another 16 veterans obtained employment after receiving his agency’s services.

“Every veteran,” he said.

Every veteran?

“I can lead ‘em to the water, sometimes I can’t make ‘em drink,” Thomas said.