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Making the Transition a Bit Easier

American Legion Hiring Our Heroes career fair.

U.S. Army Command Assistant Stacy Mulvaney came to The American Legion's Employment & Empowerment Summit on Feb. 19 hoping to pick up some advice as she readies to transition out of the military in May. She got that, and a bit more.

During the Legion's Hiring Our Heroes job fair at the Washington Hilton on Feb. 20, Mulvaney was able to meet face to face with staffing employees from top-level companies and government agencies. And earlier in the day, she attended the Legion's Résumé Workshop where Sin Kook – a career coach with Easter Seals' Veteran Staffing Network – provided advice on constructing a résumé and impressing in an interview.

"This is amazing to see the support we have from all of these organizations," said Mulvaney, who is stationed at Fort Eustis in Virginia. "(Looking for a job) online, it's just a computer screen. You're just submitting your application, and you don't hear back from someone. Talking to someone, you're feeling more confident about yourself."

More than 100 active-duty military, spouses and veterans registered ahead of time for the hiring fair, joining dozens of others who registered on-site. Waiting for them were nearly 70 tables with hiring staff from companies such as UPS, IBM, Humana, General Electric, Comcast, Macy's, Toyota, Boeing JP Morgan Chase and Lockheed Martin. There also were representatives from the Departments of Labor, Justice and Veterans Affairs.

"We understand the skills that (veterans) bring to the workplace," said Tonieh Moshier, regional compliance leader for IBM. "I look at our veterans, and I'm always impressed with their contributions. Over 68 percent of veterans have pursued higher education. They're always in a learning mode. They always want to help. That same service that they're taught … they bring it to the workplace. We admire that."

Myron McNair II, UPS' area human resources supervisor, said his company is committed to hiring veterans – but not just because of the skill set they bring to the table.

"UPS values the service the service that our veterans have done, and we understand that our veterans' wives and spouses hold a strong part in keeping … our veterans strong while they're serving," he said. "We feel that with us opening our doors to veterans and making a commitment to honor so many veterans – as far as providing jobs for them – we feel we're doing our part. We're giving back."

Legionnaire Bob Looby, who has been instrumental in conducting several successful hiring fairs in the Department of New Jersey, was on hand to help register attendees to the D.C. hiring fair.

"It's so critical because the majority of our younger vets went into the service right from high school," Looby said. "They have no training with résumé writing (or) interview skills. It's very important to get them back in the real world."

National Commander Michael D. Helm kicked off the career fair and thanked the companies who set up tables there. "That transition from the military job to the civilian job is a different world," Helm said. "You all recognize the value of that military person and the jobs they've done."

Hansel Sosa, who will end a six-year stint in the Air Force in May, was at the hiring fair to help with that transition process. "It's very helpful that a lot of organizations and companies will come out and assist you exactly on how to apply (for employment)," Sosa said. "A lot of people are lost or nervous to (leave the military) because they don't know exactly how to initiate the process."

Military.com also participated in the hiring fair. Terry Howell, Military.com's managing editor, offered attendee some advice as the fair opened. "Stop at every booth and talk to everybody," he said. "Just because the name of the business doesn't sound like something you know anything about … stop by and find out and talk to them. First of all, you're going to get the practice of talking to an employer. Second of all, you're going to learn something about that company you may not have known that can help you either now in the moment or in the future."

During the résumé workshop, Kook had attendees actually selling themselves to each other, standing face to face and delivering a quick "elevator pitch," what Kook described as "what you want to highlight about yourself."

Kook consistently engaged the attendees, which made an impact on Mulvaney. "I gained confidence," she said. "I think this is something that all veterans should have the opportunity to be able to go through.

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