FORT HOOD — When Staff Sgt. Violeta Valdez retired from the military in March, she didn’t anticipate being unemployed four months later.
Valdez has been searching for a job since before she retired and, with the one-year mark approaching, the former human resources supervisor is getting frustrated.
“I need to find something as soon as possible. I have to pay my bills and just day-to-day living,” she said. “Money is not everything, but it’s essential.”
Instead of filling out an online application and wondering if anyone even looked at her information, Valdez was among more than 6,000 people who visited with employers and handed out their resumes Wednesday during the Army Career and Alumni Program’s annual summer job fair at Abrams Physical Fitness Center.
“I never had the opportunity to go (to past fairs) because I was in the military ... but I was glad that they had it for the people who needed it at the time,” she said. “Now, I’m in need (of a job), so here I am. Hopefully I find something.”
The fair drew more active-duty and retired service members and their families than ever before and featured about 170 employers representing a variety of industries.
“Most people tell us this is the super bowl of job fairs. This is our biggest event ever,” said Linda D. Christ, transition services manager at ACAP. “Hiring military is a good deal and the right thing to do for our nation.”
Christ said they invited employers whose job openings match the military occupational specialties found at Fort Hood, as well as jobs their families would be interested in.
Soldiers who are looking to exit the military start their transition a year before they separate, Christ said. The job fair and other Fort Hood services give them the experience they need to learn how to land their dream job with a smooth transition from a military to civilian career.
“It’s pretty nice to get the opportunity to come out and talk to people about different jobs,” said Spc. Devon Felton, a 1st Cavalry Division soldier who is transitioning out of the military. “I’m not looking for anything specific, just a good, nice-paying job to support me and my family.”