Inaugural employment event brings Soldiers, veterans, local employers together
April 17, 2013
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. (April 17, 2013) -- Soldiers, veterans and other attendees received career tips and employment opportunities at the inaugural Employment Event in Heritage Hall at Rock Island Arsenal April 19.
"This is the first time that USAG-RIA has done anything like this," said Renee Michl, director of human resources. "We are getting an amazing number of employers and veterans service organizations participating in this event."
"This event is associated with the Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, or VOW Act, Helmets to Hardhats program and the revamping of the Army Career and Alumni Program and transition assistance at the Garrison," said Ethel Robinson, human resources specialist.
The employment event originated with the U.S. Army Installation Management Command and driven by the VOW Act, the target audience is service members, veterans, family members and civilian employees on Arsenal Island, added Michl.
"Each garrison is required to support the Act in some way," said Michl. "I am not sure that IMCOM was aware of how aggressive the Rock Island Arsenal would be in supporting it. We recognize the potential benefit to the military community and are very interested in making this a success. We did not receive any extra resources or staffing to accomplish this, but I have a really dedicated staff."
Garrison Manager Joel Himsl gave a short speech opening the event, thanking the service members and veterans for attending.
"To succeed you must have a partner or a team," said Robinson. "We reached out to military leaders on the Island, with First Army and Army Sustainment Command providing Soldier support. The Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce worked with us to send the information out to local businesses."
Forty employers with current vacancies and veterans service organizations attended from Illinois, Iowa and as far away as Wisconsin and Missouri, Michl said.
Kawana Holloway, tax return specialist said, "This event was very helpful and uplifting."
"We have engineering firms, trucking companies, and information technology employers attending," said Michl. "We also have representatives from Veterans Affairs in Iowa City, Iowa, the Department of Labor, the Social Security Administration and the American Legion. Several veterans service organizations could not attend but they sent veterans to take part of the event.
"Coming here to the Rock Island Arsenal is ideal for our veterans," said David Powell, Equal Employment Opportunity director Iowa City VA health care system. "The VA is for veterans. It is our responsibility to provide outreach for veterans in our area. Serving veterans is why we are here."
"We are always looking for good candidates for future hiring," said Kathy Laird, assistant district manager SSA. "We are looking for people who are interested in serving the public. We are very interested in transitioning service members and veterans who are looking for work. If you love working with and helping the public this is a great job to have and it is very rewarding to give back."
Michl said the event was open to the local and extended military community within the 150-mile radius served by the Rock Island Arsenal-Garrison. National Guard and reserve units within this geographic area were informed of the event.
"I love this event because I am all about employment, through EEO," said Carmen Ausborn, disability appointment program manager, USAG-RIA. She was here to support Hector Ontiveros, administrative assistant EEO, from the Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Service and to network and find more members for her committee that meets monthly for employment issues for people with disabilities.
Powell said there is a community based outpatient health clinic in Bettendorf and a mental health treatment facility in the federal building downtown Rock Island, Ill.
"Some of the vendors did not bring jobs but brought resources," said Lafayette Ausborn, human resources specialist. "One vendor gave tips to our service members on transitioning their resumes into something civilian employers would understand. Events like this are what we are required to do at the Garrison. For Soldiers transitioning out of the military, coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, it is about getting them back into society and helping them to find jobs."
"I was directed by the director of human resources to establish a transition assistance program on our installation," said Robinson. "IMCOM wanted to bring in remote installations like Rock Island Arsenal who did not provide transition services, to prevent Soldiers from having to travel to other locations. I think our after action report will show IMCOM that Rock Island Arsenal-Garrison is a fully functioning transitioning center."
"Over 160 Soldiers, veterans and other job-seekers registered and attended the Employment Event," said Stephanie Allers, guidance counselor.
Employers are always looking for resumes because they want to hire veterans, Robinson said.
Ausborn said, "Everything is getting where it is needs to be, we take care of Soldiers."
Service members transitioning at Rock Island Arsenal were formerly served at the transition center in Fort Knox, Ky., said Robinson.
The non-profit organization EARTHONAUT donated the balloons, posters, banners, and fees for the location for the current event and the future employment event on Sept. 4.