FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — More than 250 transitioning service members, veterans and their family members attended a career summit hosted by the Fort Leonard Wood Transition Assistance Program team May 12 at Nutter Field House.
Attendees had the opportunity to receive resume assistance, learn interview techniques and participate in networking classes on what industries are looking for in transitioning service members and how to make lasting connections, said TAP Manager Walter Harris.
Additionally, Harris said 80 vendors were on hand to speak with job seekers, with about 72,000 cumulative jobs available to them nationwide.
Not knowing what is on the other side of a military career can be intimidating, Harris added, but he hopes some left with a sense of relief.
“Transitioning is a significant time in a Soldier’s career,” he said. “It’s an unknown, so hopefully some of the stress can be alleviated if a service member leaves here with a follow-on interview or job opportunity.”
One of the Soldiers in attendance was Capt. Craig Harrell, assistant operations officer at the 169th Engineer Battalion, who is transitioning after six years of service. He has an idea of what his next career will look like, but attended the summit to learn more about the options available to him — something he said is difficult to focus on when you’re active duty.
“Events like this are extremely beneficial because, as Soldiers, we work a lot and are focused on our military career, and on military actions that don’t apply to the civilian world,” he said. “When we go out and try to get a job (after transitioning), there are a lot of unknowns and uncertainty.”
For Harrell, the networking opportunity and chance to talk to others who have stood in his boots were the biggest benefits for him.
“A great portion of the individuals here are veterans, so they have the knowledge and experience of having already been through the issues we deal with while transitioning,” he said. “I hope I can take their knowledge and experience and apply it to my own transition.”
As a retired Army officer himself, Harris said he knows the value of a smooth transition process for service members and their families.
“We owe it to them to provide opportunities, so they can be successful,” he said. “Not only for them, but so they can provide support for their families as they transition — that’s very important.”
For more information on upcoming events, or the TAP program itself, call 573.596.0175.