Annual Meeting hiring event attracts veterans and retiring soldiers 

12/1/2013 

 
The American Freedom Foundation and the Association of the United States Army sponsored the first ever Warriors to the Workforce Veterans Hiring Event at the AUSA Annual Meeting in the exhibit hall.

Sgt. Isaac Njoroge leans toward remaining in the D.C. National Guard, where he works in logistics and transportation.

Nevertheless, Njoroge roamed the floor at the 2013 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition with a keen eye for prospective employers, should he decide to end his military career.

The soldier listened intently as Tonya May, a recruiter for Global Experience Specialists (GES), talked of the Las Vegas-based company’s need for logistics experts.

The company specializes in setting up and breaking down conventions and trade shows – including the AUSA meeting.

"You’re basically erecting and breaking down a small city in a matter of days," May told Njoroge.

For his part, Njoroge relished the chance to meet so many representatives from the corporate world under one roof.

He particularly was impressed with the three-day Warriors to the Workforce Hiring Event, held in one pavilion on the exhibit floor, where he encountered May.

This is the first year for the American Freedom Foundation – Association of the United States Army Warriors to the Workforce and Veterans Hiring Event at AUSA’s Washington meeting.

He realized quickly that job opportunities were out there for him, especially with his regular security clearance.

Company recruiters like May also embraced the chance to meet a concentrated pool of desirable potential employees.

"I’ve received about a dozen resumes and talked to more than 30 people," May said. "I’ll be talking to at least a handful of these people next week."

Though GES prefers candidates that hold college degrees, May said the lack of such was not necessarily a deal breaker.

"The thing that stands out is leadership experience," May said. "A degree [provides the opportunity for] upward mobility."

But the soldiers she interviewed impressed May with their potential for adaptability and flexibility in difficult and high-stress environments.

"We need somebody who can adjust," May said. Former soldiers provide "a good cultural fit for us," she said.

Soldiers and veterans who visited Nicolas Relacion and his colleagues with Verizon Communications Inc., at the hiring event were told they could have a good future there, starting with desirable entry-level jobs at the help desk and in administrative positions.

Relacion, a master sergeant in the Army Reserve, pitched Verizon’s cafeteria-style benefits package, which includes medical, dental, and life insurance plans.

Pairing the company’s education plan with Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits offers considerable avenues for upward mobility, he said.

"They can go a long way," Relacion said.

He also echoed May’s sentiment about the skill sets veterans bring to the job.

"There isn’t anything in the civilian world that prepares someone to work a twelve-hour shift in austere conditions like the military offers," Relacion said.

Adding, "They know how to overcome the environment and get the job done."

Relacion saw roughly 30 past and present service members on Oct. 21, with an even mix of officers and enlisted soldiers.

The hiring event also provided one non-profit firm with a viable forum to seek employees for its special niche – helping disabled veterans.

"We provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities," said William Ahlberg, the senior director of contracts for Springfield, Va.-based MVLE, a not-for-profit (501 C-3) company that supports more than 500 veterans.

"Part of rehabilitation is employment," Ahlberg said.

The hiring event offered the chance "to expose our company to veterans and active duty members who are thinking about retiring," said Fernando Medina, a retired Marine Corps master sergeant who serves as MVLE’s director of operations.

After the first day, Ahlberg was optimistic.

"Right now, it looks like the best veterans’ exposition I’ve ever been to," he said.