Posted Online: Nov. 08, 2012, 5:55 pm

New Chamber effort backs hiring vets

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By Leon Lagerstam, llagerstam@qconline.com

MOLINE -- Job ''reconnaissance'' missions by military veterans became a lot easier Thursday, thanks to a new We Hire Vets initiative launched by the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce and Hooah! Quad Cities.

The initiative asks local companies to sign a ''Statement of Support for Veteran Hiring in the Quad-Cities Region,'' and the names of businesses who do will be listed on ahttp://www.hooahquadcities.com/ website, linked also to http://www.quadcitieschamber.com/, which will tell veterans what companies are participating in the program, according to chamber executive vice president Paul Rumler.

Representatives from Alcoa, Lohman Companies, Fontaine Consulting, Tyson Foods, the city of East Moline and AECOM, attended the press conference to be the first to sign statements.

'"We owe it to them,'' said Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Yves Fontaine, a retired commander of the Army Sustainment Command on the Rock Island Arsenal, now in the consulting business. ''They are patriots who have sacrificed so much. Give them the chance.''

Or, as a paragraph on the statements signed Thursday put it: "We can all agree that when these brave men and women return home, we owe them the opportunity to find good jobs and assist them in starting or resuming their careers.''

And it was fitting to do this ''in November, a month that our community pays special tribute to honor our veterans for their service," Mr. Rumler said.

Maj. Gen. Fontaine was joined at the ceremony by Alcoa's John Riches, Scott Lohman, Tyson Foods' Crystal Dyer, East Moline Mayor John Thodos, and AECOM's Jack Chase.

The initiative they signed reinforces a community covenant signed by elected officials in May, and the July launch of Hoohah! Quad Cities, Mr. Rumler said.

''We understand that hiring veterans and providing them with career opportunities is not only good for the soldier and their families, but it's good for our companies, too,'' Mr. Rumler said.

''Veterans make great employees – their military experience provides them with leadership skills, confidence and teaming abilities that can be gained few other places.''

Companies of all types and sizes are urged to sign corporate commitments veterans can use as a resource and referral list, Mr. Rumler said.

Veterans can use the list and other resources available at the Hooah! Quad Cities website to find employment and information about education, health care, housing, and even product and service discounts for military personnel and veterans available locally.

Employers can use the same website to find resources to hire veterans, including information about federal and state tax credits if they do so, Mr. Rumler said, adding that each year,about 250,000 soldiers transition from the military to civilian life.

The chamber, on behalf of its 2,000 members, is focused on initiatives that create jobs and promote economic growth throughout the region, with a priority of supporting the Rock Island Arsenal and the region's defense industry, Mr. Rumler said.

Businesses signing up agree to seek to hire veterans, guardsmen, reservists and transitioning soldiers, and to continually recognize and support our country's service members and their families in times of peace, crisis and in war, according to website information.

In return, a partner organization will have its company logo listed on the Hooah! website with a direct link to company "Careers" page, ameans to share success stories and testimonials, and public recognition.

For information, contact Abbey Nagle, at (563) 823-2677 or anagle@quadcitieschamber.com.

Thursday's press conference ended with a rousing chorus of ''hooahs.''