Jacksonville area veterans who have struggled with the transition to civilian life are about to get a helping hand from AARP volunteers, the City of Jacksonville and dozens of other Northeast Florida residents committed to those who have served in uniform.

From Aug. 2-4, the City of Jacksonville’s veterans service unit will sponsor a Veterans Stand Down at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds, 510 Fairgrounds Place. AARP volunteers have been involved in helping to plan the event and, along with other supporting organizations, will be helping to serve veterans at the Stand Down. The event will help connect veterans with government benefits, housing, health-care services including dental services and help preparing veterans for a successful job search.

“In a lot of cases, especially for those veterans who may not have been in the workforce recently or who may have been homeless, the most important thing is to help them get comfortable,” said Cheryl Jefferson. “I want to get them comfortable. I want them to be able to sell themselves.”

Jefferson brings decades of experience as a mortgage-banking executive to the challenge of helping homeless veterans. In a 30-year career in high-profile roles such as associate vice president with such major corporations as Washington Mutual, Chase and Bank of America, she interviewed scores of candidates for roles in the financial-services industry.

As an experienced hiring manager, she knows the job-interview jitters can paralyze a candidate for a position and make it hard for them to show a hiring manager the qualities that could make them a valued employee. “You have to be able to show an employer the value you could add,” said Jefferson. “Are you good with handling time? Can you handle multiple responsibilities at the same time?”

AARP volunteers also will offer veterans some tips on how to update their resumes to best effect, emphasizing their knowledge, skills and abilities, and emphasizing specific aspects of past jobs have equipped them to conquer today’s challenges. It’s a format that today’s hiring managers are accustomed to seeing – and markedly different from the resume style taught decades ago, which focused on a reverse chronological listing of jobs a candidate had held.

The job-seeking skills are only one part of the services that the Stand Down will offer. Veterans also will be able to get haircuts, “suit up” for job interviews in donated business clothing, connect with resources that could help them find affordable housing and get health checkups. Veterans also will be able to get dental checkups – an important aspect of health, particularly for older people, that often goes by the wayside when veterans struggle with homelessness and joblessness.

Why is AARP working to benefit veterans? It’s important to the Association to support those who have served the nation in uniform, said AARP Florida Associate State Director Justine Conley, the association’s local leader in Jacksonville. To learn more about AARP’s involvement on behalf of veterans and military families, click here.

It’s also important to AARP volunteers like Jefferson. Her husband is an Air Force veteran. Her brother served in the U.S. Army. She is now a caregiver for her brother, who faces health challenges, including dementia. Jefferson is a member of the Jacksonville Ladies, a group of volunteers who ensure that no veteran is buried alone and unattended at Jacksonville’s National Cemetery. Formed in November 2008 and modeled on the Arlington Ladies organization in Washington, D.C ., the Jacksonville Ladies send a representative to veterans’ funerals, paying special attention to funerals honoring veterans where no family or friends are able to attend.

For more information on the Veterans Stand Down, please call (904) 630-3680 or email TravisS@coj.net. For more information on the Jacksonville Ladies, go to jacksonvilleladies.org .

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Click here to download event flier.  All events occur at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds, 510 Fairgrounds Place, Jacksonville, FL 32202

Dates:
Aug. 2:  Personal Care Day
10 am – 2 pm
Personal Care Day is being held Thursday, August 2, 2018. Prepare for Friday’s Job Fair with employment related supplies, grooming services, work clothes, showers and haircuts.  For more information please contact Travis Sims at (904) 630-7224 or email him at TravisS@coj.net.

Aug. 3:  Homeless Veterans Job Fair
10 am – 2 pm
The Homeless Veterans Job Fair is being held Friday, Aug. 3. This event is a great opportunity for veterans, active duty and transitioning military, reservist, and retired military to connect with employers who are committed to supporting and employing veterans.  For more information, please call Ken Johnson at (904) 630-7227 or email him at KenJohns@coj.net.

Aug. 4:  Homeless Veterans Stand Down and Resource Fair
9 am – 2 pm
The Resource Fair provides Homeless Veterans with a safe haven so that they may receive dental and healthcare screenings, food/clothing, haircuts, disability claims assistance, supportive services, and other various types of counseling (mental health, substance abuse, and military sexual trauma). For more information please contact Travis Sims at (904) 630-7224 or email him at TravisS@coj.net.