As military maneuvers go, it was a comparatively small yet determined force making its way through the doors Wednesday morning at the Clarion Inn & Conference Center on Arden Way.
The objective: jobs.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's "Hiring Our Heroes" job fair for veterans and military spouses drew more than 30 employers and job hunters of all stripes.
They included 50-year-old Jeff Wiedeman, who recently retired from the U.S Air Force after a 25-year stretch and is embarking on a new career. The Rocklin resident is majoring in speech pathology and audiology at California State University, Sacramento, and seeking local employment.
"I'm happy here and didn't want to relocate, so I'm looking at different companies that might work for me," he said. "I think I can be an asset to some of these companies."
Sacramentan Adrian Morado, 32, put in seven years with the U.S. Navy. He was "looking for something in business administration or CAD (computer-aided design) management," skills he honed in the military and through earning a master's degree in business administration.
About 40 prospective employees were in line when the job fair doors opened at 10 a.m., and it was steady stream over the next several hours.
Job seekers ran the gamut:
A 19-year Navy reservist formerly stationed in Afghanistan looking "to get into the system" and land a local job that will enable her to be near her parents.
A former Army specialist stationed in Iraq aiming to get into the airline industry.
A former Marine looking to enhance his information technology skills after two years of computer training.
Chesapeake Energy, the Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas company and the job fair's primary sponsor, provided some extra help on-site - a workshop designed to enhance résumé writing, interview preparation and individual presentation skills.
"For us, a perfect day is to talk to as many people as possible, and successfully help them come into a good job," said Chesapeake recruiting supervisor Aegeda Riggins, who is a U.S. military spouse and mother.
Companies at Wednesday's job fair included nationally known firms such as Waste Management, AT&T, Walgreens, United Airlines and Quest Diagnostics. Sacramento-area employers also were well-represented, including Rancho Cordova's Aerojet, Roseville's PRIDE Industries, West Sacramento concrete company Clark Pacific and Nor-Cal Beverage Co. of West Sacramento.
Brent Perkins, a human resources official with Clark Pacific, said veterans tend to have skills that match up nicely with the local company's work.
"And," he added, "they're quick to learn and motivated to work well."
George Hunter Jr., veteran employment representative with the state Employment Development Department, also was on-site, part of an EDD effort to help veterans zero in on the right jobs.
"For (an event) like this, we tell them if they see a company they like, research that employer, and tailor your résumé to that employer ... It's important to have all your information ready."
Since its launch in 2011, the "Hiring Our Heroes" program has held more than 400 job fairs nationwide, helping more than 14,000 veterans and military spouses find employment. The program goal is to help 500,000 veterans and military spouses find employment by 2014.
Virginia Carpenter, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Western region associate who helped organize the "Hiring Our Heroes" fair (she's also an Air Force reservist), said she's been involved in about 40 job events over the past eight months.
Over that time, she said, the program has gained increasing respect from active duty military members and veterans, and their spouses.
"I think the biggest thing is they now know that we're not fluff ... and we're nonprofit so we're not here to make money," she said. "We honestly care about them and their future."
See more details on the "Hiring Our Heroes" program at uschamber.com/hiringourheroes.