BEND, Ore. -

Resumes, dress shoes and a whole lot of handshakes were the scenes Thursday at the Bend National Guard Armory.

"I hope I get something today," said an Iraq veteran.

"I hope they call, and I'll certainly be following up with them," said a Vietnam-era vet.

Hundreds of Central Oregonians came out to meet more than 50 companies in hopes of landing a job at 'Hiring Our Heroes' job fair.

Participants included Les Schwab, the State Department and a North Dakota energy company looking for new workers.

It's a national program specifically for veterans, aimed at giving them confidence in their skills.

"They look at their resume and get kind of shy about it," said Jon Gordon, a veteran and senior technical support representative at BendBroadband. "They don't think they have that much to offer the employers, so events like this give us a great opportunity to say, 'Hey you do have stuff that we need.'"

And such events also help teach potential employers that military experience is job experience.

"They're goal-oriented, detail-oriented, mission-accomplishment -- these are all things that are very difficult to get from someone walking off a college campus," said "Hiring our Heroes" spokesman Philip Maas.

Both Gordon and Central Oregon Truck Company HR Director John Holman are confident they will hire veterans from the event.

"There's two people specifically, a driver and a mechanic that I have an interest in hiring from the event here," Holman said.

Iraq veteran Dustin Shaw has been without a steady job for more than four years. He's hoping to find work, either driving a truck or getting in a program to become a teacher, and says he like the one-on-one interaction.

"They can meet you, you can meet them, you can see what type of people you might be working with, and that will help you out a lot," Shaw said.

"Hiring our Heroes" has connected more than 18,000 veterans with jobs since it began in 2011 -- and many at Thursday's job fair are optimistic they'll  be next.

"I'm one of the people where the glass is half full -- if you want to find the jobs, they are out there for you, you just have to look," said Bend veteran Karl Harris.