By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was in Pittsburgh today, meeting with a number of local employers with jobs to fill.

It was all part of a special program to encourage the hiring of local veterans.

Too often the men and women who risk life and limb in war have a particularly challenging battle when they return home — finding a job.

“I think it’s difficult for all of us that are veterans. Some of us have a lot more education than others, but I think that it’s an employers’ market right now,” says Chris Ann Phillips of Kittanning.

She was one of 48 returning servicemen and women seeking to network with Pittsburgh area employers at an unusual program hosted by AON, BNY-Mellon and Prudential.

“The integrity, the capability that these veterans bring to the table is extraordinary and we hire people from all around the world,” says Greg Case, CEO of Chicago-based AON with offices in Pittsburgh. “This program has been fantastic.”

Retired Gen. Richard Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the need is greater than ever.

“If you look at the veterans unemployment rate, it’s much higher than the average unemployment rate in this country,” notes Myers. “So there’s a lot to be done for these folks who have served our country, but I think a lot of folks are trying.”

That includes this Salute to Wounded Warriors that attracted many local employers like UPMC.

“If we can find that talent, we’re going to try to snatch it up from all the other companies here as fast as we can,” says Tony Kimbrough of UPMC.

Now this is a job fair with a twist. The veterans are actually seated, and it’s the employers that are given a resume book, walking around, trying to find a new employee.

Veterans like John Daw, of Downtown, seemed to like the personal approach.

“People really do appreciate people doing the job in the service right now, and it is a great country,” says Daw. “And people are trying to help each other.”

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