Employment Readiness Program assists spouses seeking careers
Fort Gordon’s Employment Readiness Program hosted a hiring fair March 16 at the Cyber Fitness Center.
Twenty vendors participated in the event, some of them looking to hire on the spot. The fair proved that in spite of the current federal hiring freeze, there are plenty of employment opportunities. Renee Martinez, ERP manager, invited employers from the civilian sector for that reason.
“A lot of spouses are inquiring about how they can get into (Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center), so since there’s a hiring freeze, we brought two hospitals from the Augusta region that are hiring,” Martinez said.
Although the fair was open to everyone, the primary target audience was military spouses. One misconception military spouses have about employment that Martinez hopes to dispel is a notion that employers don’t like to hire them because they won’t stay with the company long-term. Martinez said that’s simply not true. Employers prefer to hire spouses because they possess qualities and experiences civilian counterparts sometimes lack.
Job seekers Peter Ulengchong and Shannon Banks discuss employment opportunities with Dana Morgan, a recruiter for East Central Regional Hospital. PHOTO BY LAURA LEVERING / FORT GORDON PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE“They are skilled, they’re dependable, they have longevity … they know when you come from a military background, you have that extra training and dependability,” Martinez said.
From food and retail industries to health care, nearly all employers on site featured jobs that would easily transfer in the event a spouse had to relocate.
Dana Morgan, recruiter for East Central Regional Hospital, said she empathizes with military spouses, but believes they shouldn’t be discouraged; especially if they are in the health care industry. There’s always a hospital or doctor’s office nearby no matter where you live, making the career field a desirable one for military spouses.
“I know that they move around a lot with their (service member), so it’s really hard to have that solid career,” Morgan said. “With our industry, being in the health care industry, health care is everywhere you go.”
Furthermore, companies like ECRH prefer to give military spouses employment opportunities.
“We respect and embrace the fact that you’re going to have spouses that come in and out,” Morgan said. “But we get to have them for that certain period of time, and they can provide our individuals with amazing care.”
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is another company that not only welcomes but seeks military spouses. Attending on the company’s behalf, Sherry Donald, Fort Gordon Exchange Human Resources assistant, said spouses today have a good chance for continuity of a career. It wasn’t always that way.
“Back in the day, as a military spouse, you stopped working, because you transferred with your significant other and had to start all over again,” Donald said. “We try – as an organization – our best to find a position for that spouse and keep them in the line of their career.”
When it comes to federal employment, spouses have an advantage over their civilian counterparts with the Military Spouse Preference Program. Under MSP, spouses of active duty service members may be eligible to receive priority job placement when relocating.
“This is amazing, but most spouses don’t take advantage of it, and when they do want to take advantage of it, the benefit has expired,” Martinez said.
To be considered, spouses must use the program within two years of their service member receiving orders.
Martinez understands job seeking can be a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be tackled alone. She offers monthly classes, one-on-one meetings, resume writing help, and a wide range of other services designed to assist with finding suitable employment. It’s up to the individual to seek assistance.
“I love helping people, and I love to hear a spouse call me back and tell me they got a job,” Martinez said. “I just love it.”
For more information about employment opportunities and upcoming classes, stop by 172, Darling Hall, or call (706) 791- 0795.