ALEXANDRIA, Va., - Retiring from the military is a deep-thinking decision all service members have to face at some point. After serving 16 years in the military, it is a decision U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Early knows all too well."There is always going to be a bit of uncertainty and fear [with retirement] because you're entering the unknown, but like anything else, you've got to embrace the change and look for new opportunities," said Early.The Contract Specialist recently joined several job seekers at the Defense Health Agency's Operation Warfighter Employment Federal Internship Job Fair at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Representatives from 23 companies were on hand to review resumes, discuss interview techniques and offer permanent jobs and internship opportunities.
"It was an eye-opening experience and many of the companies offered positive feedback. I connected with two federal agencies," said Early.This year's job fair placed special emphasis on supporting military spouses. Organizers say the initiative aided in supporting the whole family as they transitioned while streamlining the process military spouse's face."Transition is a family affair. It is equally important for us to assist the spouses and caregivers of [Warrior Transition Battalion] Soldiers in their transition efforts in order to support the whole family during the separation process," said Nancy Adams, Chief, Career and Education Readiness Division, Warrior Care and Transition."The measure was created in an effort to help new hires, such as spouses, cut through challenges facing them which can range from federal requirements and obstacles obtaining top security clearances to lengthy hiring procedures," added Roberta Berry, Career and Education Readiness Action Officer, Warrior care and Transition.Heidi Ortiz, Veteran Employment Program Manager, U.S. Department of Labor, says military service men and women offer a special set of job skills employers are seeking."The leadership skills and discipline [veterans possess] are unmatched," said Ortiz. They know how to adapt to different environments based on their experiences and they are always ready for the task at hand," Ortiz said. "Applying for federal jobs can be frustrating. We assist them in navigating the process to apply for these jobs, coupled with offering interview tips and resume building is beneficial for them and the employer."Denise Perka, a program manager with a veterans hiring program, also participated in supporting the job fair. "One of the biggest take always from this event is that we want the service men and women to focus on their abilities, not their disabilities," said Parka. "We want to prepare them for success as much as we can with hiring events like these."Stephanie Lyons says her family is preparing for the transition as her husband looks toward retirement. After supporting her husband's 18-year Army career, she attended this year's hiring event with one goal in mind -- to focus on her own future. She says the information she received was priceless."There is a daily reminder that I am a military wife. There will be many ups, downs and moves and it all comes with the territory, however it is time to really focus on me and my career," said Lyons, who received one-on-one job feedback and resume writing tips at the event. "The information provided today was extremely positive. The key to success is opportunity, and that's what was presented here today."