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Fair offers jobs to service members, spouses

Northwest Guardian

Published: 10:55AM August 28th, 2014

Sylvia Hensley arrived at Joint Base Lewis-McChord with her husband, Staff Sgt. Toby Hensley, and their four-year-old son Saturday and she’s already hitting the pavement looking for work.

A transplant from El Paso, Texas Hensley said she wanted to find work as soon as possible. She and her husband joined hundreds of service members and their family at the second annual Boots 2 Work Military Career Fair.

“It’s awesome, it’s a great opportunity for us,” Hensley said of the career fair.

Workforce Central and the Tacoma Rainiers teamed up to host the fair Aug. 27 at Cheney Stadium. The career fair featured more than 50 exhibitors including businesses, colleges and veteran services.

Businesses that wanted to take part in the fair were required to have actual job openings to offer.

Marta Gronlund, Workforce Central communications director, said they expected to have 500 service members and family members attend the event. She said the goal of the event is to “get veterans hired.”

She pointed out the gradual reduction of service members and said it has a potential impact on the community.

“Not all of them stay here in the Pacific Northwest, but a lot of them do and we need to make sure they are ready to work and that there is work for them,” she said.

The fair not only gave service members and their family a chance to job hunt, but it also offered some coaching. Workshops were held to review resumes and offer one-on-one career mentoring. New this year was a fashion show giving makeovers to service members and letting them show off proper work attire from department stores. To help job hunters unwind or gear up for an interview, Starbucks sponsored a lounge area offering free coffee and pastries.

“It’s the whole package,” Gronlund said. “We’re trying to provide what we can for service members,”

Staff Sergeant Darell Connolly, who is transitioning in March 2015, said he was interested in finding employment at the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

“I like the sound of the job,” he said. “You get to work with people – I’m a people person – and still kind of protect and serve.”

Connolly is originally from the U.K., but said he and his family plan to stay in the area after he transitions. While Connolly still has plenty of time to weigh his options Hensley continues her hunt for employment.

After only a half hour of visiting with businesses she said she may have found a lead.

“I was talking with a lady in an insurance company, and they are hiring a lot of people,” Hensley said. “I have experience working with insurance companies so it sounds good.”