Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 20, 2013

Film Fest, State Theatre lead local push to hire veterans

TRAVERSE CITY — The Traverse City Film Festival and the State Theatre have instituted a new affirmative action employment policy for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars and are urging northern Michigan businesses to do the same.

At a Skype press conference Tuesday morning, festival founder and theater president Michael Moore unveiled the policy, which he said reaches out to returning veterans and welcomes them back into the community with “real” employment and training. More than 200,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were unemployed in February, he added, including some in the area.

“One of the most difficult things for our troops when they return to civilian life is find employment,” said the filmmaker, whose father served with the 1st Marine Division in World War II.

Moore said the theater already is seeking to hire and train a veteran for a full-time projection position with benefits and has posted the job with local veterans groups and at active and reserve duty headquarters. He encouraged area businesses to post the policy on their premises and to let customers know their businesses are friendly to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

He also urged community members to wear buttons proclaiming “I Shop Where Veterans Work” and to sign an online petition of support for the program at http://tinyurl.com/cot9lw8.

“We’re all Americans,” he said. “We’re all in the same boat. We’re going to sink or swim together.”

Moore said the move to hire and support veterans was prompted in part by the high suicide rate among returning veterans, which he called a “failure of communities.”

“We need to do whatever we can to make life good for people who are returning to Traverse City,” he said.

United States Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City Cmdr. Joseph R. Buzzella, Jr. applauded the program and said veterans bring “an incredible amount of skill sets to their communities.”

“We support the hiring of veterans,” Buzzella said. “It’s another great day to be in Coast Guard City.”

“We Hire Veterans” Affirmative Action Employer posters are available at the State Theatre and online at statetheatretc.org. Buttons also are available at the theater.

For more information, visit statetheatretc.org/veterans.com.

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