Military expo helps Fort Meade service members advance
July 7, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - For 15 years, Cpl. John Maloney of Walter Reed Army Medical Center has been working to finish his bachelor's degree in laboratory technology. But after talking to Dianna Lindsey, a Trident University International recruiter, Maloney discovered he is only seven classes from finally earning his degree.
Maloney joined more than 300 other service members and civilians who filed into McGill Training Center on June 29, seeking information to further their military careers through education and competitive military specialties.
The Fort Meade Army Education Center hosted a Military Career Advancement Expo that featured informational booths from colleges and military recruiters, as well as briefings from specialty recruiters with offerings ranging from Special Forces to the Warrant Officer Academy.
Throughout the day, five briefings were held in one of the classrooms in the rear of the facility. Briefings, each 30 minutes, discussed what each program had to offer service members and how to begin the process of entering the program.
Green to Gold, Special Forces, Warrant Officer and Special Operations, the Criminal Investigation Division and the Army Medical Detachment all held briefings.
"There's a lot of [information] under one roof," Maloney said.
Vivian Moss, a guidance counselor at the Army Education Center, organized the event, which to her knowledge is the only one of its kind in the area.
Moss said the expo helped to inform service members of the opportunities available to advance their military careers.
"Just because you came in as a truck driver, you don't have to stay that for 20 years," she said. "You can always become an officer."
As a National Guard recruiter who attends multiple career fairs per year, 2nd Lt. H Hannon said service members should come to these kind of events and learn how they can further their military career.
"It's very important for them to get out there and learn about the opportunities, otherwise they'll just not know and their careers can stagnate," he said.
Approximately 20 tables were set up in McGill's main room with information ranging from online college opportunities, the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, the Chaplain Corps and the Army Reserve.
"This is very good information," Maloney said. "It gives you a chance to meet directly with recruiters."
Sgt. Michael Custer of the 704th Military Intelligence Brigade attended the Green to Gold briefing, looking for information on becoming an Army officer.
"It's definitely beneficial," he said. "I've been in for six years, and it's the first time I've been to anything like this. If I had gone to one earlier, it definitely would have helped me with my career path a lot more."
Current service members were not the only attendees. Lamar Rapu, a senior at Howard High School in Ellicott City, attended the expo for information about ROTC programs.
Lamar said he wants to be an airlift pilot in the Air Force and hopes the Air Force ROTC program can provide him with the opportunity to pay for college and become an officer.
"I think you should always aim high," he said.
Based on the expo's success, Moss hopes it turns into a yearly event.
"If people continue to come like they are, of course we'll have it as many times as they want it," she said.