USAG Benelux Spotlight: Chris Bridges

By Sandra Wilson, USAG Benelux Public AffairsJuly 10, 2024

USAG Benelux Spotlight: Chris Bridges
Chris Bridges works for Army Community Services at U.S. Army Garrison Benelux-Brussels and specializes in providing career advice both on and off duty. (Courtesy photo) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

[Editor’s note: In this series, we are shining a light on our workforce in and around the Benelux. This Spotlight is on Chris Bridges, U.S. Army Garrison Benelux lite center manager for Army Community Service (ACS) in Brussels, Belgium, who finds enjoyment in seeking the latest employment trends to share with community members crossing her path.]

BRUSSELS, Belgium – In her daily work with ACS, Christine Bridges supports garrison personnel by providing programs and services to new community members while also sharing her strong passion to see people successfully pursue their future career goals.

For Bridges, building up garrison support for personnel in Brussels comes in the form of providing workspace for organizations such as the Red Cross, United Service Organization, or Family Morale Welfare and Recreation activities, to offer services to the military population.

While striving to make present living situations satisfactory for newcomers, Bridges always has an eye on the future for those who cross paths with her, particularly with transitioning service members.

“When I was looking for work after leaving the military, I transitioned horribly,” said Bridges. “I was having trouble figuring out what I had that would make me worthwhile for an employer.”

Bridges joined the Army with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology. She was assigned as an engineer for her time in military service and learned all about the trade. But when she separated eight years later, she didn’t have a PhD in psychology to market nor a degree in engineering.

Bridges went on to explain that transitioning service members have a lot more skills than may be initially evident to them. How much materiel were you in charge of? Were you responsible for anyone else—even just one person? Did you take on a project? All these skills and more can be used to expand a resume and marketing oneself.

“Every position you hold, paid or unpaid, comes with a lot of different responsibilities,” said Bridges.

Not only can defining oneself be difficult from one stage of life to the next, but service members can also find that they lack a strong network of people and resources because of the frequent moves to new duty stations.

“Most people get good jobs through their networks, but if you've been plucked out of your network by military service and moved around every three years … your network has really suffered from it,” said Bridges.

Transition and job training programs help ease the job search. Through research, Bridges has discovered that some of these training programs can be misguided and should be researched before taking the plunge to enroll. Rather than taking into account the employee experience and future, they can lead to dead-end jobs that benefit no one but the employer, such as providing a steady stream of workers for a high turn-over job.

“The reason I like to learn this stuff is so that I know the good programs, and I can sort of gently steer people away from the bad programs,” said Bridges. “We have to be really careful and really selective in the things that we recommend to transitioning service members, veterans and spouses.”

USAG Benelux Spotlight: Chris Bridges
Chris Bridges (right) provides Army Community Services information at a U.S. Army Garrison Benelux - Brussels welcome expo on Aug. 19, 2022. (U.S. Army photo by Bryan Gatchell, USAG Benelux Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

She often advises people to take a holistic look at a job offer before accepting it. Some people may accept employment without hesitation based on excitement or based on fear of lost opportunity without taking other key factors into consideration such as cost of living or availability of support agencies.

Bridges’ passion for employment readiness doesn’t stop at the end of the workday. Invariably, Bridges often finds herself in social conversations that steer toward employment topics. She enjoys offering her knowledge but also sees engagement with people as a possible future opportunity for career growth.

“Every interaction you have with someone is a little bit of a job interview,” she said.

Bridges recognizes the need to be on top of the constantly changing employment ecosystem and how it differs in each location. Her personal social media feeds constantly provide more information of interest.

“I make sure that I am current on the most effective and best tools … that I understand trends,” said Bridges. “Any veteran service member or transitioning service member, spouse, family member that ever crosses my path—I want to make sure that if they ever ask me a question or need information, that I'm ready to help.”

This Spotlight series will continue to tell the stories of our workforce in and around the Benelux. We are the Army’s home - we are IMCOM.