Updated 03/09/2012 08:49 AM
Hiring event helps transition soldiers to civilian life
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As the Army looks to reduce the number of troops over the next several years, more soldiers will be taking off their combat boots to walk in the shoes of those in the civilian workforce. On Thursday, veterans looking for a job outside the military got a little help.
The two-day hiring event at Fort Hood is part of a larger White House initiative launched last year called Joining Forces.
"There are a lot of great opportunities, but it's extremely competitive even being a veteran,” SPC. Alexander Davis said. “I feel like this definitely gives me an edge over the competition."
During the first day of the event, a military placement firm helped soldiers brush up on their interviewing skills and techniques. Friday, they’ll put the tools to the test through interviews with actual employers.
"Being able to see the employers one-on-one, instead of going cold into an interviewing room and not know what to expect, it takes a lot of the edge off," SPC. Davis said.
Officials with 'Joining Forces' say helping to bridge the differences between the military and private sector is one of their main goals.
"The key is getting those companies closer to the actual people and making that personal connection,” Brad Cooper said. “With only one percent of the country serving and the other 99 percent of the population not in uniform, there has over time grown a separation between the private sector and those who are serving."
Those with the military placement firm Orion say their work is just as much about educating employers.
"Everybody knows that it's patriotic to hire somebody, everybody knows it's the right thing,” Larry Cummings said. “What they don't realize is they're really helping their bottom line. These are great mechanics, these are great electronic techs."
According to January's figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment among post-9/11 veterans dropped to 9.1 percent from 15.2 percent a year ago. That's still higher than the current national unemployment rate of 8.3 percent.
"It's all about turning the next page, looking for the next opportunity," SPC. Davis said.