Service members and their families got an opportunity to see some of the transition career opportunities available during a Hire G.I. Job Fair at the American Lake Conference Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord March 30.
Staff Sergeant Michael Calabrese, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, visited a few dozen booths. He’s worked in a communications shop for the past eight years and said he’s pretty good at it, so he likely will look for a job in the same field when he transitions out of the military in a few months.
Born in New York, Calabrese grew up in Puerto Rico. He and his wife, Megan, plan to stay in the Seattle area. The couple’s first child, Iris Elise, is due in June.
“There are a lot of fun, interesting opportunities here,” Calabrese said, after stopping to talk with Valley Communications staffers Sean Morrow, human resources manager, and T.J. Bloomingdale, dispatch communications officer, about call receiver openings at the 911 call center in Kent, Wash.
“We’re hoping to hire 10 call receivers,” Bloomingdale said.
He has worked for the company for 21 years and said he is highly satisfied with his career.
“It has its moments, but it’s very rewarding,” Bloomingdale said. “This is a job where I can be glad at the end of my days that I’ve helped many people.”
Pay is fairly good as a call receiver or dispatcher, Bloomingdale said, “I’ve raised a family on it.”
“You’re going to make more money working for Amazon or some other businesses, but we offer security,” Morrow said. “We’re part of the state retirement system, and we have good benefits.”
Calabrese plans to earn his bachelor’s degree in IT management this summer from American Military University to boost his job prospects, he said.
“Everyone has an IT department,” Calabrese said.
That’s true, according to Rebecca Miller, HR generalist with Columbia Distributing — also in Kent. Various jobs are open, from warehouse and operations to graphics, human resources and CDL delivery drivers.
“We’re definitely looking to hire, and there are a lot of jobs available,” Miller said.
Jobs also are available at Hasselwood Auto Group in Bremerton, according to Aschlee Drescher, human resources specialist.
“We need people for sales, mechanics, logistics, marketing and more,” she said. “We do everything in-house, so there are always all types of jobs.”
Many law enforcement jobs are open with the Washington State Patrol. Several local and regional departments were represented at the event.
Josh Bott, corrections officer with the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention, said his field would provide a natural transition for service members.
The department is currently hiring for eight corrections officer positions and three juvenile detention officers.
“It’s a good job for people with a lot of patience,” Bott said.
Corrections officer Don Bolser, also with the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention, retired in 2005 from JBLM, where he served as a first sergeant. He said he enjoys telling fellow service members and veterans about the opportunities available in corrections.
“I love my job — it’s a good job, but more than that, I love the military and helping (service members),” he said. “Twenty percent of our staff (are veterans).”
Corrections is run with the same kind of chain of command as the military, and the department likes to hire former military because they are dependable and have discipline, Bolser said.
Sergeant Tara Forester, 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, works on the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System and returned from a nine-month deployment to Kuwait and Iraq last fall.
She is transitioning out of the military after four years of service and hopes to become employed by the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention. It was good to see and meet some of the people she may be working with in the future, she said.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Unisha Tarnay, has been a cryptologic technician in the Navy Reserve at Naval Base Kitsap, in Bremerton, for the past two years. She’s originally from Virginia and is looking for a management position.
“I came to the job fair because I Googled and found this was a job fair (specifically) for military — I liked that,” she said.