By Elaine WilsonOctober 4, 2006
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Sept. 21, 2006) - More than 200 wounded warriors, veterans and family members explored job opportunities and honed interview skills with job recruiters at a Hiring Heroes Career Fair on Fort Sam Houston Sept. 19.
Forty-five recruiters from Department of Defense and federal agencies and private sector companies set up shop at the Sam Houston Club to entice wounded Soldiers and their families with job offers.
"We're targeting servicemembers wounded in operations Iraqi or Enduring Freedom but others have stopped by," said Sharon Ferguson, director of the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center at Fort Sam Houston. "We're not turning anyone away."
In its second year, the Hiring Heroes program has helped more than 1,000 injured servicemembers and their families connect with potential employers.
"Our career fairs are a way to give hope and show the servicemembers that someone cares," said Karen Hannah, Hiring Heroes program manager. "I've had several recruiters who served in Vietnam tell me it would have been great if there had been something like this for them."
The fair at Fort Sam Houston is the seventh in just two years, with the first held at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., in April 2004.
"I know of at least 70 job offers so far in the past two years," Hannah said. "And that's not including all of the offers that will come once servicemembers leave the hospital."
Lt. Col. Rod Santellanes, from National Lending Corporation, said he met more than a few promising candidates. "We're looking to fill part- and full-time positions," said the Army reservist. "I'm so proud to have the opportunity to serve the heroes of America."
At the Northrop Grumman booth, Rutherford said the company is looking to support both the servicemember and family. "If a servicemember can't work, then we'll hire a spouse or primary caregiver. We hired a father not long ago."
Sgt. Christopher Kind said he hopes to work for a company like Northrop Grumman, which has positions in the Pacific theater, where he hopes to move.
Kind is due to be released from the military in a few months after a long recovery at BAMC. He was injured in a mortar blast in Iraq.
"I was in Iraq for about two months when it happened. One night we were getting ready to 'bed down' and I remember talking with a friend, mostly just gossip. The next thing I knew, I woke up here [at BAMC]," he said.
Kind sustained burns on 45 percent of his body; however, the wounds have not stopped the logistics Soldier from moving on with his life. "I'm looking for work," he said. "Several employers saw my resume and were impressed so I'm optimistic."
"These service members have had their lives turned upside down," Hannah said. "At first their biggest fear was being wounded. Then, when Soldiers begins to recuperate, their biggest fears become: 'Can I get a job' How will I support my family' Who will hire me now''"
Hannah said she has no doubt that the career fair can help ease those fears. "The employers here today are willing to hire people and train them. Every servicemember has skills - a gunner has been taught how to train others, team-build and organizational skills. There's enough there to get an entry-level job."
The career fair sets servicemembers up for success because the companies in attendance all have something in common, she said. "They care."
Hiring Heroes is co-sponsored by The Office of the Secretary of Defense, DoD's Military Severely Injured Center and Monster.com, a networking hub for current and former military people, defense workers and their families.
For more information about Hiring Heroes events, call Hannah at (888) 363-4872 or e-mail her at Karen.Hannah@cpms.osd.mil.