Soldiers and their families had the opportunity to meet with potential future employers at a mega job fair held at Fort Hood’s Club Hood on Jan. 23.

The event hosted by Fort Hood — partnered with Workforce Solutions of Central Texas and the Texas Veterans Commission — brought in at least 200 companies and 600 employers from local, state, national and international companies and government agencies seeking qualified transitioning service members and their families.

Martin Traylor, the Fort Hood transition services manager, said he expected approximately 6,000 soldiers to attend the job fair.

“We’re trying to connect the soldiers that are transitioning out of Fort Hood with the employers that are looking to hire veterans and soldiers,” Traylor said. “We owe it to them as a nation to help them transition successfully from the military after serving their country, so this is one way we can pay them back by hosting these kinds of events.”

Traylor said he wants veterans to be successful after leaving military service and find meaningful employment.

“It’s better if we do something proactive to help them, instead of just leaving it to them to figure it out on their own,” Traylor said.

Traylor said at transition services his staff helps soldiers translate their military training into a civilian occupation and teaches how to provide a sales pitch to employers.

“We teach them resumes, we teach them how to do their 30-second elevator speech, we train them how to negotiate salaries and how to dress,” Traylor said. “We put them through an extensive program a year out (from transition).”

The job fair brought in several law enforcement agencies from around Texas to include Houston, Grand Prairie, Midland, Garland, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas. The Drug Enforcement Agency had representatives and the Central Intelligence Agency had booths. The Killeen Independent School District, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, universities, representatives from the tech industry and government contractors were all seeking qualified candidates.

Jason Sloan, a police officer from the Grand Prairie Police Department, said his department was testing for new recruits on May 19 and that his department had success in the past hiring soldiers.

“If law enforcement, especially for the military police, is something they want to transition to in the civilian world, then we want to let them know that our door is open,” Sloan said. “We’ve been lucky in years past and reached out to a lot of soldiers in transition and offered them opportunities to come test with us and see what we’re about.”

Sloan said there are other employment opportunities if the department was not actively testing for police officer.

“We also have detention staff that we hire and communications specialists,” Sloan said. “If you’re a quality individual, honest and like to work, we would like to have you with our department or our city somewhere.”

Sloan said there are differences in recruiting from the military as opposed to the civilian populace.

“You have a captive audience here (on Fort Hood), and in colleges I’ve been to, you might only have two people come by,” Sloan said. “Many of the soldiers who are ready to transition back into the civilian world look to law enforcement sometimes as an extension of the military.”

Antoine Marion, an operations manager with Nstar Global Services, said his company helps to place high-tech professionals to advanced technology facilities, life sciences, automation and information technology.

“The soldier that has an aviation or technical, chemical or environmental health and safety background would be the type of individual we’d be looking for,” Marion said. “The good thing about the military personnel is that they understand following standard operating procedures and safety, which are key things companies look for.”

Lakeasha Williams, the senior military recruiter with Dallas-based Aviall, a Boeing company, said the company was looking for high-quality individuals. Aviall is an aftermarkets aircraft parts distributor.

“We are looking for top talent that has served our country,” Williams said. “We are actually the number one veteran-friendly employer in the United States, to include military spouses.”

Williams said her company has a wide array of positions available and believes the best talent in the country come from veterans.

“We have positions in logistics, information technology, human resources, corporate accounting and finance, and the warehouse which is our central distribution facility,” Williams said.

Williams said as a veteran herself she feels she had additional qualifications that her civilian counterparts may or may not have had.

“Things like punctual, adaptable, being able to move around and not have any issues with relocating, because veterans have done that so much,” Williams said.

Williams said Aviall can translate military skills to civilian education requirements and offers employees 401k plans matching up to 11 percent.

Danielle Muniz, a correctional officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, was recruiting for a variety of positions.

“A lot of people have misinterpretations of what our job is, and I want to get the word out there for good candidates,” Muniz said. “I was in the military and I was looking for something similar that had the same structure and had great benefits. Everything the military offers the state also offers.”

Not just service members found the job fair useful. Jessica Haggard-Keys, a military spouse, attended the job fair after seeing it advertised in the installation newspaper.

“I was looking for anything in health care, but specifically phlebotomy openings in the area,” Haggard-Keys said. “I talked with a few places that look promising.”

Haggard-Keys felt the event could have been held outdoors to make it easier to hear some of the vendors speak but, overall thought it was a good opportunity.

“It was a good experience to go and meet people for potential jobs,” Haggard-Keys said. “I would add more college or technical options. There were some jobs that will train, but I thought I’d see more educational or vocational places and I didn’t; but other than that I think it’s helpful.”

Fort Hood hosts three large-scale job fairs for those with access to the installation a year.

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