When Jason Kilcoin joined the Nebraska National Guard nine years ago, one of his main goals was to use the extra money and assistance to get a college degree.

He accomplished that goal by getting a criminal justice degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha a couple of years ago.

Though he has no plans to leave his part-time gig with the Guard anytime soon -- "I plan on staying until they give me the boot," Kilcoin said -- he is looking for a better full-time job than the one he has as a security guard in Omaha.

He had an internship with the Omaha Police Department but said there is a hiring freeze there. He also has looked into going full time with the Guard, but an opportunity has yet to materialize.

So Kilcoin, who lives in Omaha, was in Lincoln on Tuesday scoping out the opportunities offered at the Hiring Our Heroes job fair at the Lancaster Event Center.

Kilcoin was one of several hundred active and retired military members and spouses who attended the event.

Karen Mosier, regional manager of the Nebraska Department of Labor's Lincoln Career Center, said more than 300 veterans registered for the job fair and she also was expecting quite a few walk-ins.

More than 100 employers registered for the job fair, and Mosier said several that were on a waiting list also were allowed in.

One of the requirements for the companies was that they had to have current job openings, and the Department of Labor said the companies attending the fair reported more than 600 combined openings.

Mike Caha was another of the veterans looking into the potential of one of those jobs.

Caha, who has spent more than 20 years in the National Guard, including the past two as a full-time instructor at Camp Ashland, said he and several other instructors are losing their jobs at the end of August as part of a downsizing.

He said he has worked as a self-employed carpenter and may do so again.

"I just want to see what else is out there," Caha said.

Hiring our Heroes is a national initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Since its inception in March 2011, there have been more than 140 job fairs in 46 states.

Tuesday's Hiring our Heroes event was the second one in Nebraska. The first was April 5 in Bellevue. There is another one scheduled for June 12 in Omaha.

In addition to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, other sponsors of Tuesday's job fair included the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln Community Foundation, Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Department of Labor, Nebraska National Guard, Department of Veterans Affairs, Nebraska Committee of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and NBC News.

Reach Matt Olberding at 402-473-3647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

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Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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