FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- About 40 employers were on hand March 8, for the Hiring Heroes Career Fair at the Sam Houston Club, here.

The Defense Department began the program in April 2004, providing wounded servicemembers and their spouses the opportunity to meet prospective employers within the DoD, other federal agencies and the private sector.

"At last September's event [at Fort Sam Houston] we had 18 job offers extended on the spot, as well as some follow-up offers in the days and weeks following the event," said Carin Otero, chief of the Civilian Personnel Management Service Recruitment Assistance Division.

"We are really hoping we can top that number today."

"On behalf of all of our military here at Fort Sam Houston, I would like to thank all of you for coming and participating," said Col. Mary Garr, 502nd Mission Support Group commander, as she addressed the employers attending the fair.

"I know many of you have been here before and know how important this is," the colonel said.

"If this is your first time, I think you will find this a very rewarding opportunity to make a difference to our nation's military; particularly to our wounded warriors and some of their spouses."

Garr said at any giving time there are about 600 wounded warriors at Fort Sam Houston.

"We have some of our nation's most severely wounded servicemembers here," she said. "Some of them are thankfully able rehabilitate, continue wearing the uniform and go back to their units. Others, because of the extent of their injuries, are no longer able to wear the uniform but want to continue contributing in their communities," Garr added.

"Some [wounded warriors] are no longer able to continue working and their spouses, who may or may not have ever worked previously, are now having to step up and become the primary breadwinner for their family.

"You all are helping them to ease their way back into our nations communities they can be productive citizens. I wish you much success in finding some great new members for your team," Garr concluded.

"Secretary [Robert] Gates has charged us with making sure that we take care of those who have given the most to our country," said Phil Burnette, principal deputy for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy.

Burnette said his boss, Assistant Secretary of Defense John Campbell, is working with top DoD agencies such as the Department of Labor to streamline the processes and procedures for both veterans and employers. He encouraged the prospective employers and job seekers to share their challenges with him.

"You are going to meet the nation's finest today. They have incredible skills to demonstrate to you," Otero said.