(WASHINGTON) -- Baseball wasn’t the only attraction at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., Tuesday: Hiring Our Heroes, an initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, hosted a job fair at the ballpark to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find employment.
“Not only do you come here and possibly walk away with a job,” said Reginald Parker, retired Army Sgt. 1st Class, “but then you can enjoy the game as well.”
And while Washington’s baseball record might be one of the best, its unemployment rate for veterans is not. In 2015, 7.7 percent of veterans in the nation’s capital were unemployed -- the highest rate in the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The partnership with the Nationals drew a crowd, as several hundred job seekers filled the ballpark to chat with nearly a hundred employers. In fact, Army Sgt. William Allen said he first heard about the event because of the venue.
Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes, called the relationship with the Nationals a win-win, while Jake Burns, vice president for corporate partnerships at the Nationals, said his team takes great pride in hosting veterans.
“The military is obviously very near and dear to my heart,” Burns said, citing his childhood as an Air Force brat, “and as an employer of military veterans, I recognize the values and the skills that they bring to the table.”
Each attendee was given a pair of tickets to ballgame later in the night. But Parker hoped to hit a home run of his own -- with his elevator pitch.
“Being a veteran,” he said, “it’s a different type of lifestyle when you leave the service. Not having to apply for a job in over 20 years -- just being given tasks and told where a task is -- the guidance that these type of events provide to us is very helpful.”
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