Fort Stewart soldiers who are transitioning from the Army and those who recently left the service, as well as veterans and civilians, had an opportunity Thursday to compete for more than 1,100 state jobs available through the Georgia Department of Corrections and other law-enforcement agencies.
The GDC, the Georgia National Guard and Fort Stewart’s Army Career Alumni Program hosted a Military Career Fair at the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team’s all-purpose training build-ing.
Representatives of state and county agencies with job vacancies were on hand to talk with potential candidates. Participating agencies included GDC, Georgia Department of Labor, Georgia National Guard, Department of Juvenile Justice, DeKalb County Police Department, DeKalb County Fire and Rescue, Georgia Regents/Georgia Correctional Healthcare, Mental Health Management, Cobb County Department of Public Safety, Savannah-Chatham County Metropolitan Police Department and the Geo Group.
“There is a need to fill these jobs,” said Arnold Jones, a probation officer from Atlanta. “We’re hiring on the spot as we speak. And yes, there is a preference for military because the military has the same core values as we have in the Department of Corrections. It makes for an easier transition from the military to the Department of Corrections.”
Jones left the Army as a captain in 2011 for a new career with the Department of Corrections. He said he graduated from his basic officers’ course Sept. 11, 2001. After 10 years and six deployments, Jones said he was ready for an occupational change. He said being in the service teaches men and women about team building, which also is essential in law enforcement. He added that those interested in one of the open positions could apply that day and be interviewed, but if they’re selected, they would also have to pass a physical fitness test.
“I never thought about it until today,” Chief Warrant Officer Marion Andrews said after talking with Jones and Denise O’Neil, a probation officer assigned to Hinesville. “I’m retiring in about six months. I may look into this.”
O’Neil agreed with Jones then admitted there is some misconception among Department of Corrections’ applicants that all positions involve incarceration. That’s not true for probation officers, she said. She works with what she called community supervision of probationers. This way, she said the state can divert non-violent prisoners to their homes and relieve some of the overcrowding in state’s prisons.
According to a GDC public relations and information specialist Susan Megahee, Georgia has one of the largest prison systems in the country with nearly 55,000 prisoners and more than 160,000 probationers. She said the GDC is the largest law-enforcement agency in Georgia.