Hundreds attend Fort Sill spouse job fair
November 8, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla.-- On Catherine Dennison's first day of retirement from the Army she was looking for a job. The retired staff sergeant was at the Military Spouse Business Alliance Hiring Fair and Career Forum Nov. 1 at the Graham Resiliency Training Campus Support Center here.
"I was really looking for anything and everything," said Dennison, who took terminal leave from her last unit at Camp Humphreys, Korea. Although trained as a power generation equipment repair specialist, Dennison most recently worked as the family readiness support assistant at
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 194th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.
At the job fair, Dennison said she liked the one-on-one human interaction with prospective employers rather than filling out job applications online. She said she made some good contacts.
"The Lawton Police Department was here ... and I think I could be a productive police officer," said Dennison, who moved back to Lawton where she and her husband, retired Staff Sgt. James Dennison, own a house.
Dennison was one of the hundreds of military spouses of active-duty, retired, Reserve and National Guard service members, who attended the job fair sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes Program and hosted by Fort Sill.
The fair offered military spouses an opportunity to meet about 30 employers ranging from defense contractors to colleges to medical centers to private businesses to federal employers.
"Our goal today is getting the employers and the military spouses in the same room where they can network, interview and meet with each," said Shawna Young, Hiring Our Heroes program associate, "and, in the long run help each other out through getting hired."
More than 230 participants registered online before the fair, Young said.
"When they registered online they could upload their resumés, so employers could look at them," she said. Walk-ins were also welcome and their resumés were accepted.
To have a table at the job fair businesses had to have at least five local positions they were seeking to fill, Young said.
Trudy Kastner, City of Lawton human resources specialist, said she was getting a lot of interest from job seekers, and she was getting very qualified candidates.
"We're really looking forward to reviewing their applications," she said.
Candy Brown, a Lawton safety and risk officer, also at the city's recruiting table, said she spoke to about 100 people. She said many of their questions were about benefits, pay and part-time work.
Army wife Dusti Mitchell, who possesses an MBA, has been in Lawton a couple months. After five years as a stay-at-home mom she said she was ready to get back into the workforce. Dressed in business attire, she met with several employers.
"I'm looking for something in business, like HR (human resources), marketing or program management," said Mitchell, a former Army Reserve officer. "I want to use the skills that I developed in the military, and communications and security in a job where I would have career progression."
Shelley Hossenlopp, who was instrumental in bringing the job fair here, said military spouses make great employees.
Statistics show that military spouses are more educated and volunteer more than their civilian counterparts, said Hossenlopp, wife of Col. Paul Hossenlopp, Fort Sill Garrison commander.
"It really shows the dedication and the work ethic behind the (military) spouses," she said.
The job fair was an opportunity for Fort Sill's many local business partners to make their jobs available to military spouses, said Brenda Spencer-Ragland, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation director.
Also, staff from the installation's Non-appropriated Funds employment office and Civilian Personnel Advisory Center were on hand to talk about job opportunities in the federal sector.
"We have a tremendous number of jobs within MWR, and the majority of our employees are military connected," Spencer-Ragland said. "Military spouses make excellent employees and we want them to know we have jobs here on the installation."
About 15 volunteers from the Fort Sill Patriot Spouses' Club assisted with the employment fair. They greeted attendees, helped them register and assisted with the door prizes, which were donated by numerous local businesses.
In a nearby computer room, a steady stream of job seekers sought assistance with their resumés. Staff from Army Community Service's Employment Readiness Program along with Oklahoma Workforce conducted a workshop where attendees could build or update their resumés or have them critiqued by employment counselors.
Retired Col. Kerry Loudenslager, New York Life's Oklahoma Region managing partner, said his company was having record years and growth and was looking to hire.
"This has been a very productive fair for us," said Loudenslager, a former field artillery officer. "We do at least one career fair a month -- this one has been the most promising, the most productive."
Hiring Our Heroes was launched in March 2011, with the goal of getting 500,000 military spouses, veterans and retirees hired by 2014, Young said. It has helped place more than 10,400 people.