By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)May 19, 2016
More than 300 transitioning service members, spouses and civilian employees attended the two-day Transition Summit May 10 and 11 to learn about opportunities they have for their lives after the Army.
Sponsored by the Soldier For Life -- Transition Assistance Program, the first day of the summit focused on getting the senior leaders involved with how to better assist their Soldiers throughout the transition process. Day two focused on the Soldiers transitioning and included a hiring fair, said Col. Andy Herbst, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander.
"(There are) three outcomes at this summit," Herbst said. "No. 1, is to be better educated about transition. Two, is to gain a lot more networking capabilities. And finally, if you are at the point you are ready to transition in the next couple of months, a firm job offer is what I would be looking for."
Command Sgt. Maj. Roy Ward, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood command sergeant major, served as the keynote speaker to open the summit. He focused on motivating service members about their futures.
"Our goal is for each and every one of you to walk out of here with the knowledge and skills you need for a successful transition," Ward said. "We are dedicated to ensure you, our service members and your Families, leave the military ready."
Chuck Hodges, senior director of events and programs for Hiring Our Heroes, who moderated the panels, said the goals of the Army have changed as it pertains to the Soldiers who are getting out.
"I think the Army has realized that one of the missions we have to accomplish is making sure we're setting our service members up for successful transition," the retired colonel said. "If we want to maintain the all-volunteer force, we've got to make sure the folks who come in are taken care of and, as they head out door, are taken care of as well or we are not going to have people who want to join."
The first panel discussion was focused on transitioning and featured representatives from the Veteran's Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
One of the attending Soldiers, Spc. Kevin Hampton, said the summit helped him by providing information about programs available during his transition, specifically the small-business loans available through the SBA.
Various employers who provided perspectives on interviewing, resumes and how to best approach a hiring fair and hiring manager were on the second panel.
There were various workshops to assist the attendees through small-group presentations, which concluded the discussion portion of the summit. Workshops included a Boots to Business presentation, American Job Centers Path to Local Employment presentation, a LinkedIn branding workshop and a presentation focused on military spouses.
From Hodges perspective, the panel discussions and workshops provided valuable information to job seekers leading into the hiring fair that afternoon.
"We want to ensure all the transitioners have all the tools in the tool kit necessary to be a successful tranitioner and have all of the knowledge to understand all of the opportunities that are out there for them," Hodges said.
A hiring fair took place at Nutter Field House to conclude the summit.