FORT McPHERSON, Ga. Aca,!aEURc A "packed house" of Army civilians from U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Reserve Command and the Ft. McPherson Garrison filled the Kerwin Conference Room at the FORSCOM Headquarters, here, for a Base Realignment and Closure Transition Symposium for Civilian Employees, Sept. 2-3.

An estimated audience of more than 350 employees attended as many as four information sessions designed to assist them in making final decisions on whether to relocate to Ft Bragg, N.C. when FORSCOM and USARC headquarters depart here beginning in early 2011 and Ft. McPherson closes Sept. 15 of that year.

Topics such as the Department of Defense Priority Placement Program, the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Program and employment with the State of Georgia were presented, with open question and answer periods following each session.

"Feedback indicates the sessions were informative and useful to our employees," said Troy E. (Gil) Gilleland, a member of the Senior Executive Service and FORSCOM\'s Deputy G1, in a message recapping the first day's activities. "Our focus on the first day was on employees continuing their employment with DOD; the second day's topics are for those who may want to seek employment with other federal agencies or the State of Georgia."

According to FORSCOM's leadership, the ultimate goal is to have people make the decision to move to North Carolina and continue to serve the more than 800,000 Soldiers, and their families, who make up the Army's largest command.

The number of employees deciding to make the move northeast is on the increase, said FORSCOM's deputy commanding general, Lt. Gen. Joseph F. Peterson, during an Aug. 26 staff briefing.

Peterson said initial surveys conducted following the announcement of the BRAC decision reflected about 30 percent of the command's civilian employees planned to move with the headquarters, and that now the number is approaching 50 percent.

To continue the upward trend, more activities are planned here. A "Families in Transition Expo" for all Fort McPherson Soldiers, Army civilians and families is planned for Sept. 23 at The Commons.

The Expo will feature representatives from some of the same agencies as the symposium, but will also include key people from most of the counties surrounding Ft. Bragg, educational facilities and other service providers.

According to Larris Marks, FORSCOM's Civilian Human Resources Advisor for BRAC, other information-sharing events are in the works.

"We are planning a mid-October workshop where will have subject matter experts available for all our Army civilians, whether they plan to move to North Carolina or stay in the Atlanta area," Marks said. "We'll have representatives who will be able to discuss permanent change of station allowances and benefits, the DOD National Relocation Program; and counselors who will meet with employees one-on-one to advise them on retirement eligibility and benefits." she said.

Was the Transition Symposium worthwhile' Based on attendance and insight from at least one FORSCOM civilian employee, the answer is a resounding "yes."

"It (the Symposium) actually gave employees the opportunity to ask one-on-one direct questions in an open forum, and get answers from the professionals," said Larry Jones, an information technology specialist with FORSCOM G-6.

"For those who maybe didn't want to speak out, the experts took their questions on the side," Jones continued. "The event cleared up some rumors and misconceptions."
Jones plans to make the transition to Fort Bragg as a member of the FORSCOM team. "I have definitely decided to relocate," he said.