2 events show different approaches for vets transitioning from A - WNCN: News, Weather

2 events show different approaches for vets transitioning from Army

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Hiring our Heroes hosted a job fair as part of a "Jobs Summit" on Fort Bragg. Hiring our Heroes hosted a job fair as part of a "Jobs Summit" on Fort Bragg.
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -

Fort Bragg’s senior commander expects more than 8,000 soldiers at Fort Bragg will leave the army to start working in the civilian world. As more and more soldiers make that transition, the strategies to help them are evolving.

On Wednesday an event in Fayetteville and another on Fort Bragg took two different approaches to help soldiers with differing needs as they plan their next career steps.

In Fayetteville, the Fort Bragg office that focuses on soldier transitions hosted a “hiring fair” at the Embassy Suites. Unlike a traditional job fair, there were not masses of job seekers crowded around tables to talk to company representatives. There were no lines either. Instead, there was a lot of one-on-one time as soon-to-be veterans sat across the table from company representatives. The transition office (formerly called ACAP and now called the “Soldier for Life” program) arranged interviews prior to the event by screening resumes and companies and matching them. The interview-oriented event was targeted at service members leaving the military within 60 days. So they need a civilian job soon.

The hiring fair is something the transition office is doing more of these days because of results like Terry Dahl’s. He served in the Army for 21 years before leaving at the end of April.

"For the last year, that was a big part of my life, was the stress dealing with that trying to figure out what I was going to do," Dahl said.

By mid-June that stress was lifted. Dahl had attended a hiring fair a short time before his military service ended, and that resulted in a call back from the company that would become his next employer.

On Fort Bragg, Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, hosted a job fair. It was targeted at soldiers just beginning to think about their next career steps, but all soldiers were welcome. More than 1,200 soldiers attended.

"The Army is really mandating that soldiers come to summits like this well before they're about to get out,” explained Ross Cohen, the Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. So maybe it's six month, nine months, twelve months before they get out."

According to Hiring Our Heroes, more than 1,500 businesses have hired more than 24,000 veterans since the initiative started in 2012. Of particular concern is the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans – a group with 9 percent unemployment, which is 3 percent higher than the national average.

Wednesday’s job fair on Fort Bragg was part of a two-day Hiring Our Heroes “Jobs Summit” that added workshops on preparing for the job hunt and also gave employers tips on how to recruit veterans.

"Employers have really been asking for years, how do we get more access to the soldiers before they become veterans, and that's what this is all about," Cohen said.

Capt. Patricia Smith said the workshops and job fair were doing what they were supposed to - helping her feel prepared for her transition out of the military that is still a year away.

"We feel the Army's taking care of us. Fort Bragg's taking care of us, and the employers are really reaching out," Smith said.

This was just the third jobs summit for Hiring Our Heroes. The program’s leaders hope to take the summit model and make it a recurring event across the country in the future.

On Tuesday, when the focus was on helping employers figure out the best ways to reach soon-to-be veterans, Hiring Our Heroes also launched an online job fair website called Virtual Jobs Scout. Another website called the Employer Roadmap also debuted from Hiring Our Heroes. It is designed to give companies the tools they need to recruit veterans as they end their military service.


Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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