Monday, November 11, 2013

[230] MTSU job fair presents opportunities for veterans

MURFREESBORO — MTSU sophomore Kevin Tonsetic has been trying to find work since August.

The history major and former serviceman with the U.S. Marine Corps does not need a full-time job. A part-time job will do.

“I have health insurance through the university and healthcare, and I have the G.I. Bill,” Tonsetic said while attending the Blue Raider American Veterans Organization’s first Veterans Job Fair Thursday (Nov. 7) in the Student Union Ballroom.

“I’ve gotten one call back (from a potential employer),” Tonsetic added, “and that was to say they found somebody else.”

After visiting with some of the representatives from the nearly 20 vet-friendly companies who participated, Tonsetic said he was “actually seeing respectful companies here — companies with a good reputation for caring for employees. It gives me hope. There are still employers out there taking care of veterans.”

The BRAVO Veterans Job Fair paired veterans and student veterans with potential employers, some of whom were offering full- and part-time work or internships.

Michelle Shelly of Liberty, Tenn., a senior transfer studying plant and soil science in the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience, called the event “impressive.”

“I like it being on campus,” she added. “It was well-executed. BRAVO did a good job with that.” With still other companies to talk to, Shelly said she “would be interested to see what they have available and the positions they are trying to fill.”

Chanlor Culkin, a human resources recruiter with Nashville-based Ingram Barge, said his company was “absolutely enthusiastic about being here (for the fair). This is one of the ground-level places to meet veterans … guys who are looking for opportunities and we have them.”

Colleague and fellow recruiter Brian Marple joined Culkin at the fair.

Tennessee Department of Labor veterans specialist James Cupp said he likes to match veterans with employers because “you are getting a quality candidate when you hire a veteran. They have certain skills the normal population doesn’t have.”

Benjamin Bearden of Murfreesboro, a freshman exercise science major and former Marine who served from 2009 to earlier this year, said it is “very important that these job opportunities are open to us. We’re an all-volunteer service. It’s a very rewarding experience for them to give back to us for all we did for our country.”

Dollar General, UPS, the Tennessee Department of Labor, State Farm and Community Health Services were among the companies participating. The MTSU College of Graduate Studies also took part.

BRAVO president Malcolm Stallard, a sophomore, said he was “glad to see people feeling backed by employment opportunities” at the fair.

Stallard said BRAVO, which has about 250 members, will hold another Veterans Job Fair in the spring.

Others contributing to the job fair’s success included university registrar Ann Reaves, VetSuccess on Campus counselor Heather Conrad, BRAVO adviser Patrick Richey and Mike Jones of Hermitage, Tenn. Jones is co-founder of Vet6 and Not Alone, organizations helping veterans find employment or internships.

BRAVO will host the 2013 Warrior Challenge 5K/10K Race, to be held at 8 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 10, starting at the MTSU Veterans Memorial next to the Tom H. Jackson Building. Entry fee is $25 for veterans and $30 for nonveterans. To register and learn more, go to or register through Facebook by searching for “Warrior Challenge 2013.”

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