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      Dow Event Center hosts Hiring our Heroes veterans job fair

      Former Marine Phil Wickman hopes he can land a local job in Bay City.

      "Home finally? It would be great. I mean, my kids are here, my family's here,â?? Wickman said. After working out-of-state all last year, Wickman said, it hasn't been easy trying move back.

      Itâ??s a common challenge among other military veterans looking for work, although, employers say, they have a lot of soft skills companies would want.

      "They're very disciplined, they've grown up because of being in the military, they have leadership skills and they're decision makers,â?? said Rich Wells, Vice President of operations for Canada and U.S. North and site director of Michigan Operations at Dow Chemical.

      Military vetsâ?? stripes and insignia don't always translate well on paper. Thatâ??s why dozens of local employers - including Dow Chemical - did a little old-fashioned networking Friday, inviting veterans to the Dow Event Center in Saginaw for the Hiring our Heroes job fair.

      Wells said, "We have a debt we have to repay.â?? A growing debt, as thousands of servicemen and women returning from Afghanistan join the ranks of existing job seekers, making it all the more urgent for employers in Mid-Michigan to step up their recruiting.

      â??There's lots of new technology coming to the Great Lakes Bay Region as well as established companies and they're all represented here today, it's just great to see,â?? Wells said.

      Wickman is looking at a welding job and he found a local company willing to train him on their dime.

      â??It looks like I might be staying here in the area,â?? he grinned.

      Hiring our Heroes is part of an effort by NBC News and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment.