A step ahead: Wounded warriors offered exclusive access to job fair
December 4, 2012
- More than 30 veteran-friendly companies set up shop at the job fair, presented by the Army Career and Alumni Program and Civilianjobs.com
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FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (Dec. 4, 2012) -- For the many Soldiers filtering into the job fair at Cole Park Commons, Tuesday, the goal remained simple: make connections on the way to a new career.
This goal is crucial for Fort Campbell's wounded warrior population, who received special treatment at the event with the first hour open exclusively for these Soldiers.
"I'm going through a med board, trying to see what's out there available for me once I exit the Army," said Sgt. Randy Young, assigned to D Company, Warrior Transition Battalion.
More than 30 veteran-friendly companies set up shop at the job fair, presented by the Army Career and Alumni Program and Civilianjobs.com.
Opportunities ranged from Shell Oil and Fruit of the Loom to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and several other police and public safety agencies. Some companies were in line with the military occupation speciality of several of the Soldiers in attendance.
"I've done logistics for 18 years," said Sgt. Steven Phillips, D Co., WTB. "I have a certificate in hazmat. I feel like I have a lot to contribute because of being in the military for 18 years."
After two tours of duty, Phillips deals with a torn meniscus, numbness/tingling on his left side and other injuries. However, the only noticeable sign of his injuries is the cane he uses to navigate between the booths. Otherwise, Phillips is upbeat in hopes to find a new career, whether relating to his MOS or "something that you need to go to school for or they can do on-the-job training with so [I] can have a chance of making it in the civilian world," he explained.
The employers, both national and local companies, paid to participate in the fair to attract military hires.
"For me, it represents an opportunity to go out and meet people who have a certain skill set, a certain mindset, a certain discipline," explained Carl Samara, a service manager with an industrial refrigeration and methane gas recovery company, Synergy Refrigeration.
"We really want to bring that to our company. We feel that the military provides that opportunity for us to go out and meet those people and interface with those people that we wouldn't normally get."
For Kentucky's Troops to Teacher Program Coordinator Wayne A. Eccles Jr., who is a fellow Army veteran and wounded warrior, said he understands why the Army provides such a good pool of candidates for the civilian workforce.
"A lot of them feel like that they've been given a lot, and they want to give back," he said. "To be honest with you that is precisely the kind of folks that we want to teach our kids. People who appreciate what they have and they want to make a difference."
Within the last year, the Troops for Teachers program in Kentucky helped 76 veterans become full-time teachers.
"We help them get credentialed," he added. "We can streamline the process in most cases for veterans."
Eccles also explained that wounded warriors have four years from the day they are discharged to apply, which gives them time to obtain the necessary bachelor's degree.
Between 400 to 600 people were expected to pass through to job fair Tuesday, said Fort Campbell's ACAP Transition Services Manager Harold Riggins. While Tuesday's event served as one of ACAP's major hiring events for the year, the program also offers smaller scale hiring opportunities each Wednesday.
"The national unemployment rate in 7.9 percent; the veteran unemployment rate is significantly higher than that," Riggins said. "A lot of employers say they like the skills that Soldiers get from the day the join the Army to the day they get out. So why not put all these folks in a room together and get a relationship going?"
While Riggins said a select group of Soldiers would undoubtedly receive some on-the-spot job offers Tuesday, many more such scenarios will play out one to three months down the road.