Hiring Heroes

Roderick Mack of the Department of Treasury (right) speaks with a soldier during the Hiring Heroes career fair Wednesday. Soldiers who are transitioning from the Army sometimes need help settling into certain aspects of civilian life — including finding a job. The career fair and services like it help connect employers with soldiers.

Soldiers transitioning from the Army face a unique challenge. The shift from life in the military to life as a civilian can be rough — they’re two different lifestyles and it takes some adjustment.

“(In the Army) everything is very regimented and they have specific things that they know — tasks to do,” Fort Riley’s Employment Program Manager Tasha Jones said.

Soldiers sometimes find themselves at a loss for what to do after they no longer have those tasks.

The Hiring Heroes career fair, which took place on Fort Riley Wednesday, is one of many resources for soldiers who hope to transition out of the Army in the near future.

The career fair allows soldiers to meet employers.

Soldiers can interview for jobs during the career fair — almost all of the 81 employers who had booths at Wednesday’s career fair had at least one position open. According to Fort Riley Garrison Commander Col. John Lawrence, more than 100 people have been hired at each event.

Employers from all over the area and the state came to the career fair, ranging from Foot Locker, to the Department of Agriculture, to police departments attended.

Officer Vidal Campos of the Topeka Police Department said he often has jobs available and they’re often ideal positions for former soldiers.

“We’re structured almost the same way (as the military),” he said.

According to Jones, many employers may find former soldiers are good fits for their companies.

“They’re just committed to the task and they don’t stop until the task is done,” she said. “Most soldiers, they have a great follow-through, and they work ‘til the end, and they’re committed to whatever they do.”

This is the Hiring Heroes career fair’s tenth year of operation and it’s hosted as a joint effort by the Department of Defense and Fort Riley officials.

The career fair has something for almost every military-connected person in search of a job — military spouses can find work through Hiring Heroes in addition to transitioning soldiers — but there’s some special emphasis placed on soldiers who have been injured.

Soldiers who have been wounded may need special accommodations, but having a disability doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t be hired.

Injured soldiers from amputees to people with traumatic brain injuries to those with post traumatic stress disorder can attend Hiring Heroes.

Lawrence believes “right now, most of our injured veterans and wounded warriors can be productive in any job they want to go at,” he said. “We don’t see it ... as something that takes away from them, it’s just another part of them.”

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