Guest post: Mining seeks veterans in New Mexico

Posted on August 13, 2012 by Minerals Make Life

Guest post by Mike Bowen.

More than 420 veterans came out for the “Mining for Veterans” job fair held last month in Albuquerque, N.M., offering experience and expertise uniquely fitted to careers in mining.

“There is a need for electricians, mechanics and heavy-equipment operators, and many veterans have that experience,” said State Mine Inspector Terence Foreback.

But the benefits of hiring former men and women in uniform go beyond their technical skills.

“Veterans make safe workers,” said Foreback. “Because of their training, they’re aware of their surroundings. They know how to watch out for each other and they’re willing to tell one another when someone is not doing something right or doing something that’s not safe.”

Foreback pointed to Drew Dix, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War, as an example of the attentiveness and dedication veterans embody. (Mr. Dix will be the keynote speaker at the New Mexico Mine Health and Safety Conference in May 2013.).

Despite their specialized training and experience, the unemployment rate among veterans, who sometimes struggle to acclimate to civilian life, is typically 3 to 4 percent higher than the rest of the nation, according to Alan Martinez, deputy secretary of state benefits and legislative affairs for the New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services.

“There are two things that help reestablish someone returning from military service: education and a job,” said Martinez, “Mining and the training it offers employees provides both.”

Several of those attending the job fair were already in the process of obtaining positions with the 11 mining companies present, and company representatives collected resumes and set up second interviews with a number of veterans.

“To watch vets go from table to table and see the excitement in their eyes made the event an incredible success in my opinion,” said Martinez.

The event was sponsored by the New Mexico Bureau of Mine Safety, the New Mexico mining industry, the New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services and the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.

Mike Bowen, executive director, New Mexico Mining Association.

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