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‘Paychecks for Patriots’ returns Thursday

Mark Parker



Ahmed Amer (second from left), the local veteran employment representative for the Department of Economic Opportunity, at the 2021 event. Photo provided.

While military veterans often possess unique skills applicable to civilian employment, many find the transition challenging.

Officials with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), the Florida National Guard, and the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs have partnered with CareerSource Pinellas to help connect former service members with local employment opportunities.

CareerSource Pinellas is bringing military veterans and at least 37 county employers together for a special hiring event Thursday (Dec. 1). Dubbed “Paychecks for Patriots,” the event was scheduled for Nov. 9 but postponed due to Hurricane Nicole.

Ahmed Amer, the local veteran employment representative for the DEO, is the event organizer. He is also a Navy veteran. Speaking from personal experience, he said pride often factors into the difficulties former service members face when seeking civilian employment.

“They want to help themselves on their own,” said Amer. “But what we see is that everyone needs help.”

He said boosting confidence and detecting potential barriers is a focus of his organization’s outreach efforts. Many veterans, Amer explained, remain unaware those challenges exist or are reluctant to talk about it with strangers.

He said the DEO and CareerSource try to overcome those barriers through local and national hearing panels. The ultimate goal, said Amer, is to bridge the gap between hiring officials and those who have served the country.

“Break the ice between veterans and employers,” he added. “And make sure that they are providing the adequate work environment for them.”

According to an accompanying release, over 8,000 veterans and military family members statewide have gained employment through Paychecks for Patriots since its inception in 2013. It states that those groups bring dedication, a unique skill set and diversity to Florida’s workforce.

The St. Petersburg College EpiCenter at 13805 58th St. N. in Clearwater will host the event. From 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., veterans and their families will have a chance to connect with some of the area’s most prominent employers.

Coca-Cola Beverages, Lockheed Martin, Pole Star Defense and Raymond James are a few of the private companies attending the event. Several government entities have also registered, including the Cities of Largo, Pinellas Park and Safety Harbor, the Pinellas County School district, the Sheriff’s Office and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA).

Amer relayed that veterans spend their time in the military completing the same routines, and those lessons stay with them in civilian life.

“To wake up on time, report to work and take responsibility for their actions,” he said. “That responsibility is a strong aspect that employers look for. Whether they’re being watched or not, they’re doing the right thing; and they’re also making sure they’re doing it safely.”

It is a job seeker’s market, said Amer, with more unfilled positions than applicants. He hopes at least 100 veterans will attend Paychecks for Patriots and said former service members are an untapped pool of qualified people that can propel the local workforce.

He added that the ultimate goal is to connect veterans with meaningful careers they can retire from rather than temporary positions.

Job seekers should register for Thursday’s event here.


Here is the complete list of registered employers:

211 Tampa Bay

Fifth Third Bank


BayCare Corporate

Brantley Termite and Pest Control

CareerSource Pinellas

Charter Communication/Spectrum

City of Largo

City of Pinellas Park

City of Safety Harbor

Coca Cola Beverage

Department of Juvenile Justice

Empath Health

FINAO Brand Apparel

Florida Department of Children and Families

Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services

Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program (HVRP)


JMI Resource

KEMCO Systems

Life Sciences

Lockheed Martin

Masonic Home of Florida


National University

New Horizon

Pinellas County Government

Pinellas County Schools

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office

Pole Star Defense

Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority

Raymond James

St. Petersburg College

U.S. Navy

VA Bay Pines

Veterans Florida

Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists, Inc. (VRSI)







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