The University lent a helping hand to military veterans when it hosted Hiring Our Heroes: A Veteran Career Fair and Military Expo on March 21 in the Student Recreation Center.
Sean Ramsden

More than 80 employers sought workers with the skills and discipline they have come to expect from veterans.

Rider has a long legacy of supporting veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces – a tradition that reaches back to its founding in 1865 in the days following the Civil War. Recently, the University once again lent a hand when it hosted Hiring Our Heroes: A Veteran Career Fair and Military Expo, on March 21, in the Student Recreation Center.

The unique event brought job seekers who are military veterans, including those on active duty and members of the National Guard, as well as their families, together with more than 80 employers seeking workers with the skills and discipline they have come to expect from veterans. The University partnered with veteran-friendly organizations such to identify job opportunities, trade programs, and Veterans Administration support programs.

Hiring Our Heroes also offered breakout sessions on various career paths, educational opportunities, making the transition from the military to the civilian life, leveraging one’s military experience in the job market, and other related sessions geared toward the unique needs of veterans and their families. 

“With the unemployment rate for veterans significantly higher than that of general population, I am pleased that we, as a University community, were able to help raise awareness about this issue and help connect unemployed veterans, as well as student veterans looking for employment, with employers,” said Boris Vilic, dean of the College of Continuing Studies (CCS), and one of the driving forces behind the event.

Hiring Our Heroes opened with a ceremonious flourish, with the presentation of the colors by the Trenton Central High School Army Junior ROTC Color Guard, followed by stirring renditions of The Star-Spangled Banner and God Bless America by The Dean’s Singers of Westminster Choir College and the Clearview Regional High School Vocal Ensemble. The Clearview Ensemble is conducted by Westminster alumnus Nicholas McBride ’02.

Among the employers present at the Veteran Career Fair was the accounting firm of WithumSmith+Brown, which was represented by CCS graduate Bill Stahl ’07, a former staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force.

“There are a lot of returning troops who have been fighting for our country, so I’m glad to see an event like this held for them,” said Stahl, who worked as a Rider public safety officer while earning his bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

Stahl added that WithumSmith+Brown seeks has enjoyed a mutually beneficial long-term relationship with Rider, which produces graduates the firm knows it can trust.

Det. Dean Kolackovsky of the Baltimore Police Department, the eighth largest force in the country, came to the career fair to tout the advantages of law enforcement to the veterans in attendance. He cited the department’s medical and dental benefits, pension plan and generous vacation and holiday plan as just a few of the attractive benefits a job with the Baltimore P.D. has to offer.

“Also, we have no residency requirement,” said Kolackovsky, easing concerns more local citizens might have about relocating to work in Baltimore. “You simply have to live within an hour of the city limits.”

No matter what kind of jobs the veterans sought, Brig. Gen. Michael Cuniff was certain the businesses that hired them would be gaining quality employees.

“That’s what you get when you hire a vet,” said Cuniff, who is also the Adjutant General of New Jersey. “They’re dependable, trainable and dedicated.”

Other partners in the Veteran Career Fair included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the New Jersey Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and the Reserve; the Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service; the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; and NBC News.