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Hundreds attend hiring event, education fair

Upwards of 600 job-seekers were expected to hit the fifth annual Soldier for Life Hiring Event and Education Fair here Thursday, according to Jane Cunningham, transition services manager for Fort Sill's Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program (TAP).

"Currently we have 26 colleges on the ground and 80 companies, and we still have more sliding in in the next few minutes," she said shortly after the event opened for business.

TAP tries to get approximately 124 colleges and businesses involved so soldiers have a good chance to look at different jobs. These are soldiers who are going to transition from the military to civilian life between April 1 and March 31, 2019.

"This gives them a chance to start to work with vendors, companies and colleges to start their job search. Some of them who are going to leave in the next 30, 60, 90 days will probably get jobs right from here," Cunningham said.

Preparing the soldiers for this typically starts 12 to 18 months out. There are pre-separation steps to follow, and their initial counseling, which helps them decide whether or not they're going to transition or re-enlist. Then TAP does a five-day workshop with the soldiers, followed by three separate specialized workshops on higher education, technical skills and entrepreneurship. TAP offers both federal and civilian resume-writing classes. It also teaches them about dressing for success, salary negotiations and interview skills techniques.

"What's a good thing about the hiring event, all the companies that are here on the ground are only vetted if they're actually hiring. So if they're not hiring they don't normally come to the event," Cunningham said. For applicants who wish to relocate, companies and colleges from across the region and even the nation were there.

The event was open to not just service members but also military spouses, veterans, military retirees and civilians.

The reason this is important, said Cunningham, is that "we want to make sure that we take care of our soldiers because we have the Soldier for Life cycle. Part of it is reintegrating them back into the communities that they're going back to. This is one way to help do that so that they can still continue to be a strong member in whichever community they join."

All of the employers were military-friendly and interested in having veterans come work for them.

"That's what they're here for, is to hire the best for their companies," Cunningham said.

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