By Corrie Poland, Warrior Care and TransitionMay 26, 2017
SEATTLE, Wash. - The room buzzed as men and women flowed into the conference hall with their briefcases and resumes in hand. While some were dressed in uniform and others donned their civilian attire, all were looking to make a good impression. Nearly 70 employers from the private sector, federal agencies and non-profit organizations had arrived to the Hiring Heroes Career Fair in Seattle, Wash. on May 24th, ready to review resumes and interview on the spot.
The candidates, who had traveled from near and far, were wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce. Many had come from the Army Warrior Care and Transition Program where they are actively recovering from their injuries or illness and preparing for the next step in their lives. The career fair provided them an opportunity to speak with potential employers and learn about opportunities where their military experience would translate well.
"Some service members who've spent the past 5, 10, 15 or 20 years in the military may not [understand] the reality of what life is like outside of the military," said Staff Sgt. William Rice, who is recovering at the Joint Base Lewis McChord Warrior Transition Unit. By speaking with employers at events like this, he continued, transitioning service members get a better sense of how their skillsets fit in outside the military.
Rice, a former combat medic and U.S. Army Ranger, interviewed with Amazon earlier that morning, immediately landing an internship that he begins next week. His new office is made up of many other service members and veterans. "We have all been there and know how to help each other out. I already have a sense of bond with the people there, even though I've never even met them," Rice explained.
Career workshops were also available throughout the day, which focused on how to build both federal and private sector resumes, translate military experience into private sector skillsets, network and interview with employers.
"Through our DoD Hiring Heroes Career Fairs and Employment Workshops, we connect wounded warriors, transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses with federal and private sector employers. Since 2005 we have hosted nearly 90 career fairs and assisted thousands of job seekers navigate the application and interview process and secure employment," said Director of DoD's Hiring Heroes Program, Karen Hannah.
Spc. Sangwoo Kang learned about the career fair and workshops through his WTU at Joint Base Lewis McChord. "I encourage others to take advantage of the programs available for transitioning Soldiers and veterans. There are a lot of benefits," he said.
"The [Army Warrior Care WTUs] really set you up for leaving the military with your head held high," added Rice.
More information about hiring transitioning service members and veterans is available through the following resources:
- Dept. of Defense Hiring Heroes Program: http://godefense.cpms.osd.mil/veterans/hiringheroes.aspx
- Army Warrior Care and Transition Program: www.wct.army.mil.
- Department of Labor Veterans' Employment and Training Services (VETS): www.dol.gov/vets