Against the backdrop of thousands of federal workers on unpaid furlough today, President Bill Clinton and Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation for “Hiring Our Heroes – Little Rock,” a hiring fair for veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses at the Statehouse Convention Center.

“If we’re going to ask service men and women to risk their lives for this country, the least we can do is give them a job when they come home,” said Beebe.

As he exited the stage, Clinton did not take questions from reporters. When they shouted at him to get his perspective on the current federal government shutdown, he smiled and waved, but did not answer.

This morning, the White House released a video taped by President Barack Obama addressing the impacts of the shutdown on the Defense Department. Active duty military will continue to serve — and will get paid – because of a last-minute measure passed by Congress Monday and signed by the president less than two hours before the government shutdown. Many DOD civilians will be furloughed, while others deemed essential will be required to work without pay.

“As President and your Commander-in-Chief, I’ve worked to make sure you have the strategy, the resources and the support you need to complete the missions our nation asks of you,” said Obama. “Every time, you’ve met your responsibilities and performed with extraordinary professionalism, skill and courage. Unfortunately, Congress has not fulfilled its responsibility.”

At the job fair in Little Rock, more than 65 employers came with jobs available for veterans and military spouses of all ranks and levels of experience. Companies range from America’s biggest employers, like Toyota, Tyson and Walgreens, to dozens of other companies from the region, such as Acxiom, AEP/SWEPCO and Summit Bank. Several state and local government agencies also participated, such as the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and Arkansas Department of Education, Teacher Recruitment division.

The fair also included a free University of Phoenix-sponsored employment workshop offering resume assistance, job search tools, and interviewing techniques for all jobseekers.

Since Hiring Our Heroes began in March 2011, more than 1,200 companies have hired 20,200 veterans and military spouses as a result of more than 610 hiring fairs. In March 2012, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Chamber Foundation, and Capital One launched “Hiring 500,000 Heroes,” a national campaign to engage the business community in committing to hire half a million veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014. Thus far, more than 1,000 businesses of all sizes have pledged to hire 235,000 heroes toward this goal. To date, 119,000 hires have been confirmed toward this goal.

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Kerri Jackson Case