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Inside a Military.com Veteran Job Fair

Camp Lejeune Job Fair

For most military members, the idea of separating from the military brings with it feelings of anxiety, apprehension and just plain fear, Randy Plunkett, director of community outreach for Military.com said.

That’s why the online company partnered with the Non-Commissioned Officers Association to bring their Career Expo to Camp Lejeune Thursday morning, complete with around 35 different companies and colleges looking to hire or provide service members with educational opportunities.

Contrary to popular belief, Plunkett said, “there’s a lot of great opportunities when you’re leaving the military.” He added most service members aren’t aware of all the companies that are eager and willing to employ the nation’s veterans.Master Gunnery Sgt. James Petrongelli said he went to the fair to help him gather a sense of what he’d like to do in the civilian world since he’ll be retiring from the Marine Corps after 29 years this spring.

“I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up,” Petrongelli said with a smile on his face. “But I figured I should start a plan.”

Unlike most military members his age, Petrongelli still has kids in the house, so he’ll need to find employment even after retirement. He said he wants to stay in the Jacksonville area, and hopes to secure a position working on the base or with the government.

“Primarily I’d like to work on the base because I just like being around Marines,” Petrongelli said. “But I’m open to everything.”

As an aviation ordnance chief on New River, Petrongelli’s current job in the Marine Corps entails handling and maintaining multiples forms of weaponry for the aircraft. He said he has yet to find a way to relate that position to terms a civilian employer can understand, but he’s confident he’ll be able to snag a job.

“I just have to get creative,” he said.

Triple Canopy, a company that provides multiple forms of security and firearm instruction for bases and installations across the world, came to Camp Lejeune to find qualified former service members to add to their team.

“About 90 percent of our guys are former military,” said Andrew St. Germain, a representative with the company. “We’re always looking for more guys ... Especially guys with infantry training or combat experience that can help protect the bases.”

Multiple police departments from across the east coast, contracting and construction companies, as well as information technology and security companies occupied the ballrooms of Marston Pavillion Thursday as seas of men and women in uniform navigated the booths and spoke to potential employers.

Although the fair had about 400 service members show up hoping to find a job, Plunkett said the turnout was much lower than their May Career Expo, which generated a crowd of over 800 people.

He said one reason the turnout was so low might have been because of the lack of marketing within the base’s gates. “Some of the folks I spoke to said they didn’t hear as much about it on base,” Plunkett said, adding that regardless of the number of people that came to the fair, the important thing was that their efforts were worthwhile.

“If one or two veterans leave here with a job today, I’m happy,” he said. “We’ve done our job.”

Contact Daily News Military Reporter Amanda Wilcox at 910-219-8453 or amanda.wilcox@jdnews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AWilcox21.

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