2014-03-28 / Front Page

ACAP job fairs assist veterans, transitioning service members

By Bonnie Heater
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office

Maj. Argentina Gibson, 35th Signal Brigade, discusses career opportunities March 20 with Capt. Samuel Brown, with the Georgia State Patrol, during a hiring event with spokesmen from various state agencies. 
Photo by Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Maj. Argentina Gibson, 35th Signal Brigade, discusses career opportunities March 20 with Capt. Samuel Brown, with the Georgia State Patrol, during a hiring event with spokesmen from various state agencies. Photo by Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office The downsizing of the military is happening across all services, but so is the effort to help service members find jobs before leaving the military.

Since the passing of the “Vow to Hire Heroes Act,” which is bipartisan, bicameral, comprehensive legislation designed to lower the rate of unemployment among the nation’s veterans, steps have been put in place to aggressively attack the unacceptable high rate of veterans unemployment in this country. This act was passed by Congress in November 2011.

One group of federal employees on Fort Gordon is doing their part in assisting service members transitioning from the military into the 21st century job market. The staff of the Fort Gordon Army Career and Alumni Program plan and coordinate hiring events or job fairs as well as offer career counseling, job hunting skills and many more services to assist transitioners (veterans) and their spouses find employment.

“The number of hiring events on the installation has increased to an average of about four per month,” said Ella Freeman, the Fort Gordon transition service manager. “This is primarily due to the many employers that are looking to hire transitioners (veterans) and their spouses as well as the increased numbers of service members leaving the military.”

“Sponsoring and hosting these types of events is just one of the many ways ACAP assist those military members separating or retiring, which makes for a win-win situation for both the employers and the veterans,” Freeman explained.

“One of the hiring events we recently hosted was quite successful,” she said. “About 10 percent of the job seekers were interviewed and hired on the spot.” The hiring fair Freeman was referring to was the Law Enforcement and State Agency Hiring Fair, held March 20 at the U.S. Army Reserve Center, Building 14401 on 15th Street and Lane Avenue on post. It was open to all job seekers. Hundreds of jobs were available from companies and agencies such as the Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justices, State Board Pardons and Paroles, and the Department of Safety.

“The hiring event went off well and so did the many demonstrations conducted there,” said Freeman. “We had about 290 job seekers come out for the job fair; about 55 interviews were conducted on site and there were 28 known on-the-spot hires. There may have been more, but the Department of Juvenile Justice left before reporting their number of hires.”

“ACAP is here to assist and prepare all separating and retiring military personnel through training, counseling, workshops, seminars, job fairs, and coaching in developing the skills and knowledge needed for them to make informed decisions about their life as well as to them help them become more competitive in looking for civilian careers,” the Fort Gordon Transition Service manager explained.

In January this year, ACAP initiated three goals, planning and success tracks: Entrepreneurship, Higher Education and Career Technical Track, in accordance with the VOW Act of 2011. These tracks are all two-day workshops designed for focused information sharing, goal assessment, application assistance, education and training opportunities, use of resources and much more.

“We conducted our first Senior Executive 5-Day Transition Assistance Program and GPS Core Curriculum for enlisted service members (E-7 and above) and officers,” Freeman said. “Although the instructions are basically the same as any other fiveday curriculum, the group of senior leaders seemed to take the questions and involvement to a different level. It was received quite well and as result, we have planned another senior executive TAP and GPS core curriculum May 5-9.”

ACAP also incorporated employers and program owners into the curriculum. Some of these employers include “Helmets to Hard Hats”, “Warriors for Wireless”, and Vet2 program. “All of these employers and program owners are interested in training, hiring or connecting the veterans to career opportunities,” Freeman explained. “A recurring schedule of when these employers will be available at the Fort Gordon ACAP Center for service members transitioning out of the military, veterans and their spouses is being developed now.”

ACAP is also partnering with the Augusta Warrior Project to bridge the gap between separating military and veterans, allowing for a smooth transition of services provided and resource sharing.

“We are getting a lot of support from the surrounding communities,” Freeman said. “The Central Savannah River Area is doing a great deal to assist veterans in finding valuable employment. Companies are partnering with educators to maximize their efforts in hiring a work ready force.”

Freeman feels a lot of the support may be the result of the American people and corporate America feeling it’s the right thing to do.

“Service members have served this nation during 10 years of war and now really is the time to show veterans that they are not, nor have they ever been forgotten,” Freeman said. “Again, these situations (hiring events or fairs) create a win-win situation for employers and veterans.”

Freeman offered some suggestions to better a service members chances of being hired during the many job events or fairs hosted by ACAP on post.

• Be prepared (use the resources available at ACAP).

• Research potential employers you are interested in working for before going to a job fair.

• Bring an adequate supply of quantified job specific resumes.

• Have the right attitude.

• Dress for the career you seek.

• Don’t get discouraged.

Finally, Freeman said ACAP is calling for all Soldiers looking to retire in the next 24 months or Soldiers separating from the military within 18 months due to expiration term of service that have not started the ACAP process, to visit the Fort Gordon ACAP Center at 33800 Rice Road or call 791-7333 in order to get started, now.

“We are here to help prepare and assist all transitioners (veterans) and hopefully reduce any stressors associated with leaving the military,” she said. “ACAP is a proud partner of the Soldier for Life program.”

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