AUGUSTA, Maine. (WABI) Maine is leading the nation in its commitment to prove to employers the value of veterans in the workplace.
The state's Hire-A-Vet campaign kicked off Tuesday at the Augusta Armory.
100 employers are expected to hire 100 veterans in 100 days.
"Veterans have done so many different things from personal finance, to combat operations, to heavy construction in the military," said Adria Horn, Director of Maine Bureau of Veterans' Services.
The Augusta Armory was filled with nearly 100 employers ranging from state agencies, to retail businesses, to manufacturing companies on the first day of Maine's Hire-A-Vet campaign.
"Last year we hired close to 200 veterans and the average wage was about $25 an hour. I mean that's pretty good," said John Butera, Commissioner of Maine's Department of Labor.
Now in its third year, the program hopes to match service men and women with careers that fit their specific skills and qualifications.
"I got my resume with me. I'm ready to go."
Machias native, Wayne Morey, served 20 years as a military police officer and is retiring in his home state. But he's itching to start a new career now that he's back home.
"I've been an MP, so I'm kind of looking in that job field just to keep the same mindset, but I'm really a blank canvas here. I want to branch out and do other things as well," said Morey.
"We have between 127-130,000 veterans in Maine, which is actually 10% of our population. A lot of people don't know that we have the third highest population per capita of veterans in the country," said Horn.
Despite having one of the lowest veteran unemployment rates in America, Maine veterans often come across the same problems when applying for jobs as their fellow soldiers across the country. Military skills and qualifications don't always translate as intended on a job application or resume, and veterans are unable to get their foot in the door.
A recent change in Maine law though has helped ease that burden.
"If you're a veteran and you meet the minimum qualifications for a state job, you will get an interview. Let the veteran explain for themselves how their qualifications match this job," said Horn.
The Hire-A-Vet campaign has successfully matched hundreds of veterans, a couple of whom were homeless at the time, with quality jobs to allow them to start the next chapter of their lives in the state they want to call home.