Volunteer helps veterans network for jobs

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July 05, 2017
By Pam Kragen, San Diego Union Tribune

Bill Loeber isn’t quite sure what possessed him, but four years ago at a town hall meeting he challenged a local congressman to do more for out-of-work veterans. To his surprise, the politician turned the question around and asked Loeber what he was willing to do to help.

Loeber didn’t hesitate. Since 2013, the retired Hewlett-Packard executive has volunteered more than 500 hours teaching free job-hunting and networking workshops to nearly 300 San Diego County veterans transitioning to the civilian working world. His efforts with the North San Diego Business Chamber’s Operation Connect program have earned him numerous honors, including the chamber’s 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award and the San Diego Military Advisory Council’s 2016 Nancy Dix Civilian Individual Achievement Award.

Chamber President and CEO Debra Rosen said Loeber’s selfless efforts have yielded concrete results. She knows of nearly 100 North County veterans who have found good jobs after attending Operation Connect workshops.

“Bill is so smart and he’s lived networking and looking for jobs,” Rosen said. “He teaches from a very interactive standpoint and engages the veterans. He doesn’t speak at them, he talks with them. He lives it, he feels it and he’s passionate about it. He’s a good guy.”

Loeber, 66, isn’t a veteran himself. He trained as an engineer at the University of Minnesota and spent most of his career in marketing, including 26 years with H-P. Many years ago when his children were young, he lost his job and it had a profound impact on his life and self-esteem — a feeling he wouldn’t wish on anyone.

“It freaked me out,” he said. “I thought, there has to be a system to help people find work. Most people aren’t good at networking, so I thought that if I could ever teach people how to network, they wouldn’t fear it and they’d find work a lot sooner.”

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