Nearly 500 soldiers, their spouses and family members, and veterans connected with 45 civilian employers at Club Stewart Tuesday morning for a Soldier for Life-sponsored civilian job fair.
According to CivilianJobs.com Director Jake Hutchings, employers participating in the event included schools and law-enforcement agencies as well as transportation and construction companies looking to fill entry-level jobs to high-level management positions. Well-known companies included Gulfstream, Northrop Grumman, Georgia Pacific, Lockheed Martin and the Mayo Clinic.
“CivilianJobs.com is an organization that helps veterans find a job if they decide to separate from the military,” Hutchings said. “The (Army Career and Alumni Program) and Soldier for Life (Transition Assistance Program) do a fantastic job helping (transitioning) soldiers, and what we do is help them. We come out with about 50 organizations from across the country that have identified veterans as having the transferable skills they’re looking for.
“There are 45 organizations here today. We hope to have 400-500 veterans that are transitioning out of the service to come here today.”
Hutchings, a former 3rd Infantry Division cavalry officer, transitioned from the Army at Fort Stewart several years ago. He said one of the great things about his organization is that they help all veterans, whether they recently left the service or left the service years ago. They also help military spouses and family members find jobs, he said.
“The secret’s out,” he said. “A veteran hire is a good hire. Companies have over the last few years identified veterans’ population as those who have a dedication to an organization. … One of the things we try to help organizations do is to translate (soft) skills, even from a combat arms officer or enlisted soldier, into corporate America.
“It’s not always in the resume — those intangible skills that soldiers bring to the table, like being on time, discipline — not clock watchers. Nobody works 9 to 5 in the military. We work until the mission’s completed.”
Spc. Jesus Acevedo, an infantryman with combat experience and three years of active military service, talked about some of his intangible skills he hopes to use after he leaves the Army in a few weeks. Given his interest in automotive maintenance, he talked with Steven Lange, military field admissions representative with WyoTech.
Lange said he understands what Acevedo has to offer as a student at WyoTech, which he called the “Harvard of automotive schools.” Being a retired soldier, he said the young man will have the desire and dedication to be a good student, even though his military occupational specialty was infantry and not wheeled-vehicle mechanic.
He said WyoTech’s main campus is in Laramie, Wyoming, with other campuses in Blairsville, Pennsylvania; Daytona, Florida and Fremont, California. Acevedo said his home is Washington, so a school in the Northwest would be close to home. Lange said WyoTech would provide the young soldier with the training he needs to be a successful automotive mechanic, and then the school would help him find a job.
Deborah Camel, 17, a military family member, talked to Senior Police Officer Tony Howard with the Athens-Clark County Police Department. She said she isn’t positive about a career in law enforcement, but wants to keep her options open.
“I actually want to be a lawyer,” Camel said. “I’m still in high school right now. I don’t know if I want to go into the military to help pay for college and law school or get a job in law enforcement.”
Camel is interested in the Athens-Clark County Police Department because of its proximity to the University of Georgia. However, Howard told her she’d have to wait until she’s 21 to work in law enforcement. He said their police department actively recruits military veterans. They offer veterans additional starting pay if they have two to four years military experience, he said.
Hutchings said CivilianJobs.com holds job fairs on military installations around the country, including one Oct. 14 at Fort Benning. He added the companies that participate are diverse because transitioning military personnel are diverse.
“We know that veterans transition out of the service at different ranks with different skills and from different walks of life,” he said. “We want to make sure we provide the full gamut of organizations for them to make sure we provide the right jobs for them.”