By Steve BallJune 28, 2012
U.S. ARMY GARRISON DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. -- Installation Management Command is often referred to as the Army's home, but recent efforts during the Department of Veterans Affairs Hiring Fair in Detroit showed that supporting deployed Soldiers where possible is equally important.
"We were here at the hiring fair to assist the VA with conducting virtual interviews using VTC capabilities from five active Army installations in close proximity of the job fair," said Ken Echols, chief of military personnel division at headquarters IMCOM. "But Tuesday evening, a representative from the VA came to us and asked if we could assist with providing 'coaching' services for several Soldiers deployed to Kuwait. Of course we said yes."
A major from the deployed unit saw that the hiring fair was happening and called the VA Tuesday to see if there was any way his Soldiers could participate. The VA said they could offer coaching assistance but had to come up with a way for Soldiers to call in and that's where IMCOM stepped in. Mitchell Lee, program manager Army Career and Alumni Program, was part of the IMCOM team here supporting the interviews. He immediately began working the logistics of making the connection happen.
"We worked with the staff at Fort Sam Houston to create a 'bridge' for the soldiers in Kuwait to call in through and then connected them with four coaches from the VA on four different lines," said Lee. "We ran a couple of test calls before Soldiers called in and the system worked perfectly."
Soldiers who participated were each assigned a coach from the VA for Vets program who assisted them through the process of creating a resume and conducting a job search.
"This was just the start for these Soldiers," said Cheryl Gravlee, veteran career coach with VA for Vets. "We will assist them with both federal and civilian resumes. We will help them modify their resumes as they apply for specific jobs and we will continue to assist them with job search and help them with their interview skills."
"This is a program that we would like to see expanded by the VA and other organizations conducting hiring fairs," said Echols. "Now that we see the successes we can have through offering virtual service, I can envision making this opportunity available at even more installations and for more deployed Soldiers in the very near future."