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Expo offers career opportunities to transitioning soldiers, retirees

POSTED: September 30, 2011 9:29 a.m.
Denise Etheridge/

JCB Inc. recruiter Heather Alkire hands her business card to Air Force veteran Maurice Wilson during a career expo at Fort Stewart’s Club Stewart on Wednesday.

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Entering the civilian job market when an estimated 14 million Americans are out of work can be an unsettling prospect. But some of the job-search pressure was lifted Wednesday for more than 500 transitioning soldiers, veterans, retirees and military spouses during a career expo at Fort Stewart’s Club Stewart. The expo is hosted on post by CivilianJobs.com each spring and fall.

“The expo offers employers a way to meet motivated and proven transitioning service members as they begin their career search following their military service,” said Vicki Washington, senior career expo coordinator. “This event offers candidates and employers a profile pre-matching process that ensures a company’s representatives will meet the attendees whose backgrounds offer the best fit for their positions.”

Job seekers could find local, statewide, national or international opportunities through the expo, according to Washington. Thirty-two employers from such fields as administration, aviation, health care, law enforcement, logistics, maintenance, management, commercial truck driving and engineering — along with universities and trade schools — were represented, Washington said. Two employers, JCB Inc. and the Sandy Springs Police Department, participated in the biannual expo for the first time this week, Washington said.

“I think the military has a wealth of qualified candidates and some of them want to remain in this area,” JCB recruiter Heather Alkire said. She told one potential applicant the company is seeking to fill a significant number of entry-level positions. JCB Inc., which has a plant in Pooler, manufactures earthmoving, agricultural and material handling equipment.

Sandy Springs police officer Ronald Johnson said coming to Fort Stewart to recruit law-enforcement personnel makes good sense. Sandy Springs is a fairly young city in the metro Atlanta area.

“Today’s police departments are considered paramilitary,” Johnson said. “Often what you do in the military you do on a police force.”

The officer said military members are disciplined and understand teamwork, qualities and skills desired in police officers.

Looking to the military for qualified job applicants also can save employers money, according to Washington.

“They get somebody who is pre-trained,” she said. “If they’re (the company) not local, they don’t have to invest in the cost to move someone to where their company is located because the military pays the cost of that last move.”

“We love coming to the military,” National Training regional manager Andrew McLoughlin said. “Employers want people who are going to have that discipline, that are going to show up for work.”

National Training is a commercial truck driving and heavy equipment operator school based in Orange Park, Fla.

Sgt. 1st Class Tommy Pirtle is retiring from the Army next April after a 24-plus-year career. Pirtle plans to prepare his resume with the help of MilitaryResumes.com, a service that helps military members transition their resumes from military language into civilian language.

“It really helps the military service member translate all their skills into a language that civilian employers will understand,” Washington said of the resume-writing service.

“I’m getting my resume ready to be sent out the end of the month,” Pirtle said. The soon-to-be retiree is seeking a second career as a federal or Defense Department civilian employee, he said.

“I’m looking for a light at the end of the tunnel,” Air Force veteran Maurice Wilson said. Wilson, a Glynn County resident, retired after 23 years in the military. He had been employed by a Defense Department contractor in facility and equipment maintenance.

Army spouse Mary Moser is looking for work and educational options.

“I was thinking about taking classes online and a few at the education center,” Moser said. “I’d like to find a job, but if I take classes I can find a better job.”

Moser said the career expo was her first job fair experience.

“We moved here four months ago,” she said. Moser’s husband redeployed from Iraq in June.

Army veteran Ron Padgett, 64, is not ready for a final retirement. Padgett said he is looking for a part-time, flexible position, perhaps in a teaching or mentoring role, after he retires from Army Civil Service next March.

“I really want to stay active,” he said. “I’m lucky; I’ve never been laid off and I’ve never been homeless.”

Padgett retired from Army active duty in 1991. His first civilian job out of the service was a low-paying position in a food store, he said. Padgett said he understands “it’s tough out there” for many job seekers today.

 

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