FORT POLK, La. – Active-duty Army spouses took part in a virtual Military Spouse Career Empowerment Expo, sponsored by Military OneSource, March 4 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
The event drew more than 400 participants Army-wide and included a panel discussion and breakout sessions focusing on resume preparation, networking, education options and personal well-being.
Brig. Gen. David Doyle, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk commander, made opening remarks (virtuallly).
Hollyanne Milley, spouse of Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the guest speaker.
Stacey Delgado, Fort Polk Employment Readiness Program manager, said the expo was the brainchild of Military OneSource and Military Spouse Employment Partnership – MSEP.
“They came together as a group and determined smaller installations needed a specialized hiring event expo where they could gain resources and information about not only what services Military OneSource offers, but also the employers within MSEP,” Delgado said.
Delgado said there are more than 450 partner companies with MSEP.
“Our local partners like Lowes, Wal-Mart, AT&T and Navy Federal, to name a few, were contacted by Military OneSource and MSEP to not only put on a great display and sessions over this expo, but also conduct a follow-on virtual hiring event Wednesday,” she said.
Each expo is tailored to meet the needs of the installation, Delgado said.
“They’re held across the Department of Defense, so any isolated or remote installation will have the ability to be online for these events which can meet challenges that are associated with military spouse careers,” she said. “We have fantastic breakout sessions which include federal application, resumes and self-care. The spouses are getting a well-rounded program, not only on how to take care of career challenges, but also how to take care of themselves.”
The morning’s panel included representatives from Amazon, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Veteran’s Affairs and Google.
“Amazon and Google spoke about opportunities to work from home,” Delgado said. “Many of our spouses at Fort Polk would like to work from home due to local employment challenges, and a reluctance to make a long commute to either Alexandria or Lake Charles.”
Shaina Medina, whose husband, Capt. Kenneth Medina, is company commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, said she attended not only to garner information for herself, but also for other spouses in her husband’s command.
“I have a job, but I’m attending this to get the information out to my company, and for future opportunities when I move,” she said. “This is great information about the companies that will specifically hire military spouses and veterans. They’re providing links to those companies, and how to work with those companies’ HRs.”
As a follow-on to the expo, there will be an MSEP virtual job fair Wednesday. Participants can log in and talk to employers and learn where to send resumes.
“You do not have to attend today’s sessions to participate on March 10,” Delgado said.
Fort Polk’s Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation will host an off-post job fair March 13 for DFMWR non-appropriated fund positions. Also, the Fort Polk ERP will host its first in-person job fair this year for spouses on March 24. As of now, there are several local companies who will attend the in-person job fair. Two years ago more than 30 jobs were offered to spouses on the day of the event. There will also be information on educational opportunities.
“This is a great event,” Delgado said. “I hope spouses are able to gather information that is helpful to them, not only from the Employment Readiness Program, but also from Military OneSource, and learn what MSEP can do. Those are companies that offer portable careers — they can move from installation to installation — and they have upward mobility.”
The March 4 virtual expo was scheduled for March 21, 2020, but rescheduled for the fall due to COVID-19 issues. The program was rescheduled again for March 4 when Fort Polk suffered back-to-back hurricanes. It almost had to be delayed again when a snow and ice storm hit Fort Polk Feb. 15-18
“That we were able to host this expo was a testament to the perseverance of those responsible for pulling it together,” Delgado said.
The March 13 off-post job fair is held from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Johnson Temple Church of God in Christ, 200 Nona St., Leesville. Call 531-6922/7421 for more information. For more information on the March 24 job fair, call Stacey Delgado at 531-6922.