A job fair helps dozens of HVAF veterans

On Thursday May 26, HVAF hosted its fourth annual Veterans Job Fair. During the event, 19 employers from the Indianapolis area set up booths in the HVAF boardroom for veterans to visit.

Recruitment representatives from FedEx, Home Depot, Goodwill Industries, Venture Logistics, Qdoba, Walgreens, AAA Hoosier Moto Club, Conrad Hotel, Embassy Suites and other companies welcomed veterans into discussions about job opportunities and reviewed their resumes.

“We appreciate all of the employers who came and their willingness to reach out to veterans,” HVAF President and CEO Brian Copes said.

At the start of the event, there was a buzz of excitement among many of the HVAF clients who were ready to show off their resumes and use the skills they had been working on with their employment specialists. Some of them arrived wearing dress clothes from the HVAF clothing pantry, ready to make their best impression.

The event was open to all veterans, and 37 veterans attended throughout the two-hour event. One attendee, William Leeper, connected with several employers during the job fair.

“The job fair definitely was beneficial to veterans in the middle of the job search process. Every employer seemed so eager to hire; I even got an interview on the spot,” William said.

“It was amazing to have so many employers come out to support our veterans," says Employment Coordinator, Chasiti Herring. "We appreciate their time and their willingness to participate in our annual event.” “Many veterans benefited from the job fair. They either received a job offer or an interview as a result of the event.”

William’s interview with Goodwill Industries during the job fair landed him a job with the organization where he is now gainfully employed. His story is just one among many veterans who benefited from the job fair by receiving a job offer or an interview.

Veteran's determination rewarded with employment

Rashaun joined the Air Force in 2008 because he was confident that serving his country was something he could become passionate about. During his service, Rashaun served in Hawaii, Iraq, Turkey, Korea and Afghanistan.

Serving his country brought Rashaun purpose, and when he left the Air Force in 2014, he struggled to find his place in civilian life.

“When I was in the military, everything was laid out for me. When I got out, there was no instruction manual for how to live daily life. Without the structure I was used to in the military, it was a hard transition,” Rashaun said.

After leaving the Air Force, Rashaun lived in South Field, Michigan. He jumped around from different shelters as he found himself living on the streets. He remained homeless and unemployed for a year, despite his consistent efforts to get back on his feet and find a job.
“Employment was the biggest barrier I faced,” Rashaun said. “I thought I would be able to get a job after leaving the military, but it was much harder than I expected.”

Rashaun found HVAF when researching organizations that assist veterans. He moved to Indianapolis and entered the HVAF program last April, at which point he was connected with Case Manager, Kascha Koelling. At HVAF, Rashaun was provided with temporary housing at the Jackson property and he exhibited dedication and commitment within his job search.

“I went to every job fair and took every opportunity that HVAF gave me during my search for employment, and I was able to get a job after 1 month,” he said.

Because of his determination and hard work, Rashaun has been working as a full-time security guard at Securitas for the past month. He enjoys the structure of his duties on the job because it reminds him of his past work in the military. He is thankful for his job that is keeping him busy, and he is currently working with HVAF staff to find permanent housing.

“Rashaun continues to remain focused on improving his life and becoming stable after all of the hardships he has endured,” says HVAF Case Manager Kascha Koelling. “He has lost a lot after coming home from his deployment, so he hopes to rebuild his life and make it better.”

Car wash to benefit HVAF

This year, the American Legion Auxiliary hosted its fifth annual car wash to benefit HVAF. On June 11, more than a dozen members from the Auxiliary showed up at American Legion Post 155 to get wet, clean cars and raise funds for veterans.

Judy, a member of the Auxiliary, was a key figure in creating the HVAF committee, the team who organized the car wash and frequently coordinates events and donations to support HVAF.

“We started helping HVAF six years ago and expected to only help for one year, but as soon as we got to know the organization, we were all in,” Judy said.

Four years ago, Judy learned about the Residential, Employment, Substance Abuse Treatment (REST) program at HVAF and was motivated to help in the efforts to provide veterans with the resources they need to overcome substance abuse. Since then, the proceeds from the annual car wash have been directed towards the REST program.

This year, $807 was raised at the carwash for the REST program.

“This has been one of the most successful and rewarding projects our Auxiliary has been involved with. The veterans at HVAF have always been extremely appreciative, grateful and kind,” Judy said. 

Benefit for HVAF - Patriotfest

On Saturday, June 11, the Knights of Columbus #5290 held the fourth annual Patriotfest at Knights of Columbus. For weeks before the event, the group had collected nonperishable food items for the HVAF pantry at VFW Post #261, and they continued to collect items at the door on the day of Patriotfest. During the 10-hour event, attendees enjoyed cornhole and volleyball tournaments, a hog roast, a car show and four live bands. At the end of the night, 5,000 pounds of food was collected and $1,000 was raised for HVAF. The event was hosted by Patriots 4 Patriots and received assistance from V.F.W. Post #261.

HVAF’s 23rd Annual Meeting Highlights

This year, HVAF of Indiana hosted its 23rd Annual Meeting. Highlights of last year’s accomplishments included the work of our employment specialists who worked with 247 veterans, and assisted 225 veterans obtain gainful employment

Brigadier General Ronald A. Westfall who serves as the Director of Joint Staff of the Indiana National Guard spoke of his military experiences as well as the challenges returning veterans face.

The first award HVAF presented included the Louise Loyd Distinguished Volunteer Service Award which went to Rebecca O’Connor who has been a regular volunteer since 2010 and has donated over 500 hours of her time to HVAF each year.

Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery received the Richard J. Schwartz, II Distinguished Leadership Award. They are the first disabled-veteran-owned distillery in the United States, and they have used this platform to host Operation ALPHA, a Veterans Day event that raised $13,000 for HVAF last year. Their leadership in the Operation ALPHA event has equipped HVAF to serve many more veterans.

The C. Russell Cox Excellence in Professional Services Award went to Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic. They have helped many HVAF clients work through and overcome legal barriers, which in turn has helped the clients gain employment and move into permanent housing.  This year’s recipient displayed commitment by coming in and being the leading provider of legal services to HVAF clients.