"Our goal every day is to help connect veterans and job seekers to the careers they deserve and need to support themselves and their families."
A man salutes as a procession of veterans passes him on the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge in Brewer during the Bangor - Brewer Veteran's Day Parade on Nov. 11, 2021. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

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Laura Fortman is the commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor.

On Nov. 11, we pause to honor the sacrifice and service of all veterans, especially the thousands of veterans living and working here in Maine. At the Maine Department of Labor, many of our staff know first-hand what it means to serve our country and have been using their military training to continue to serve their communities every day.

At our Maine CareerCenters, we have a special unit dedicated to connecting veterans to good-paying jobs across the state. All of our veterans representatives are veterans themselves and understand the challenges faced by veterans and their spouses, as well as the programs and resources available to smooth the transition to civilian careers.

Richard Partridge, originally from Detroit, Maine, and one of the department’s Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program specialists in Bangor, was a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps before finding his current passion of assisting other veterans.

When he left the military, he went to an employment office in California seeking help with his next steps. “There were challenges,” he said. “I was not even asked if I was a veteran. There was no one to help at all.”

Partridge decided to go back to school to earn a degree in computer information systems. While there, his financial adviser offered him the opportunity to work at the same employment office he had gone to for help when transitioning from the military. He knew that his background gave him a unique perspective when assisting veterans with their career goals. “I told the front desk that every veteran that came into the office, I want to talk to them,” he said. “Being a veteran makes it easier to talk to other veterans.”

This experience eventually led to bringing his expertise back home to Maine in early 2022. Using his years of experience, Partridge now does the valuable work of helping veterans reach their employment goals through the Maine CareerCenter.

A police officer before joining the military, Partridge said that public service through the CareerCenters has been a natural fit for him. “I enjoy helping others,” he said. “This is a very rewarding job.”

Veterans representatives provide resources and expertise to assist and prepare veterans to obtain meaningful careers and maximize their employment opportunities. They can help with your job search, resume writing and interview skills, as well as help translate your military skills to quality jobs in the civilian workforce. I highly encourage veterans who are looking to take the next step in their career to connect with a local veteran representative at one of the CareerCenters.

Specialized services for veterans include the annual Maine Hire-A-Vet Campaign — an incredibly successful partnership to connect veterans, their families and other job-seeking Mainers with their employment goals. Recognized nationally as a best practice, this campaign has facilitated the connection of almost 1,700 veteran jobseekers with more than 1,000 Maine employers since it started in 2015. During this time, average wages have increased from $17.43 per hour to $24.12 per hour.

There are 13 days left of this year’s campaign, and participating employers have reported hiring about 80 veterans so far. Many employers wait until the end of the campaign to report their total hires, and I look forward to seeing the results!

Our goal every day is to help connect veterans and job seekers to the careers they deserve and need to support themselves and their families, as well as connect employers with the talent they need to grow their businesses.

If you are an employer looking to hire veterans or a job seeker looking to take the next step in your career, please connect with one of the Maine CareerCenters located throughout the state. Services are offered in person, by phone, and online. You can call the CareerCenter hotline, 207-623-7981, talk to staff through LiveChat, email  MaineDOL.CareerCenter@maine.gov, or visit in person.

To the veterans, thank you for your service, and we look forward to serving you at a local CareerCenter.