Wounded Warriors Find Opportunities at Career Fair
September 26, 2008
By Jeff Crawley
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- The Defense Finance and Accounting Service was seeking accountants, financial analysts and human resource specialists. The Bexar County Sheriff\'s Office was looking for law enforcement officers to join its team. And, the Fort Sam Houston Civilian Personnel Advisory Center sought staff to fill positions in the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and other offices.
These agencies and departments were a few of the 77 employers who recruited at the Hiring Heroes Career Fair Sept. 23 at the Sam Houston Club. The fair attracted more than 300 injured servicemembers and their Family members and caregivers.
Veterans are a great hire, said Carin Otero, director of the Recruitment Assistance Division, Civilian Personnel Management Service of the Department of Defense.
"They're the best and the brightest," Otero said. "We know that they have the leadership skills, we know that they have the technical skills, and we know those skills transition very well into a civilian career."
Patricia Bradshaw, deputy undersecretary of defense for Civilian Personnel Policy, welcomed the employers shortly before the fair opened at 9 a.m.
"A significant characteristic of this job fair today is that we have gone from 24 employers (in 2005) to 77. I can't thank you enough for that commitment," Bradshaw said. "You the employers continue to play the most significant role in the lifecycle care of our wounded."
The career fair offered a blended approach of employers. About one-third of the employers were from the Defense Department, another one-third from other federal agencies and the last third from the private sector, said Karen Hannah, Hiring Heroes program manager at Recruitment Assistance Division, Civilian Personnel Management Service, Defense Department.
"The private sector is doing a phenomenal job of hiring our severely injured," Hannah said.
To help prepare job seekers for the event, a prefair workshop was held Sept. 22 at the Sam Houston Club, said Kim Goffar, veteran's outreach coordinator at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center at Fort Sam Houston. Workshop topics included resume writing, working a job fair, veteran's preference in hiring and reasonable accommodation.
Employment specialists from the Office of Personnel Management and Fort Sam Houston's Army Career and Alumni Program, Equal Employment Opportunity Office, Army Community Service and CPAC led the workshops. Twenty-four computers were set up to help job seekers create resumes or tweak existing ones with help from employment specialists, which included volunteers.
"We have individuals assisting with writing federal resumes and others assisting with private-sector resumes," Goffar said.
During the career fair, agencies and companies presented 30-minute information sessions about their organizations and the positions that they sought to fill.
Some of the presenters included the FBI, Troops/Spouses-to-Teachers, Naval Air Systems Command and Volt Workforce Solutions. More than 150 injured Soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, were bussed to the fair. They were part of a steady stream of customers who kept employers busy during the six-hour event.
Nioka Wiggins, a human resource specialist with DFAS in Indianapolis, explained to interested applicants that her agency is the accounting firm of the Department of Defense. She accepted resumes and determined at which of the five DFAS locations prospective employees preferred to work.
"Once I receive the resumes, I take them back to the hiring managers at Indianapolis," Wiggins said. "They contact applicants to begin the interview process."
Human Resources Manager Kelly Sebastian of Airgas Southwest based in Albuquerque, N.M., said she was getting much interest in her company and talked with a lot of qualified applicants.
"They're enthusiastic and high energy," she said. "It's nice to see that."