Serving in the military is a job that’s both demanding and dangerous. And for some, returning to civilian life can be just as challenging. This week, Schofield Barracks held its first ever Transition Summit, a three-day event that aims to help soldiers adjust to life after service. HPR’s Molly Solomon was there and has this report.
Today William Crawford has traded in his fatigues for a button down shirt and slacks. He holds a blue folder in one hand, which holds copies of his resume —a first for the retiring Army Master Sergeant. “I’ve never created one before,” said Crawford. “It’s the first I’ve made and I’m 41 years-old.”
Crawford has been stationed at Schofield Barracks for the last two and a half years, but has spent more than two decades in the Army. He’s now preparing to retire next year. “I’m a little bit apprehensive, nervous. It’s a whole new life,” said Crawford. “You were born, bred, institutionalized into a way of life, and now you have to go to the other side and fit into society. It’s just going to be a transition period.”
Crawford is among 1,700 servicemen and women taking advantage of the military transition summit this week on Oahu. More than 100 potential employers have set up booths at this afternoon’s job fair, including mainland companies who flew over to Hawai‘i for the summit. One of them is Chris Cortez, the Vice President for Military Affairs at Microsoft. He says Schofield Barracks is an ideal place to recruit.
“We just can’t hire enough people with appropriate IT backgrounds,” said Cortez. “So why not match the need for people in the IT industry with the large number of military people that are leaving active duty.”
The Army recently announced a cost-saving plan that will reduce the active-duty force by 40,000 troops over the next two years. In Hawai‘i, Schofield Barracks is expected to lose 1,214 soldiers as part of the plan, a 5% cut to its base.
Cortez knows firsthand what it’s like to transition from the military. The retired Major General served in the Marines for more than 30 years. He says these military job fairs can be both exciting and nerve-racking for the soldiers. “I think one of the big concerns that military people have is the thought of ‘how is what I did in the military going to translate into what a company out there can use.’”
Part of the goal of this week’s Hawai‘i Transition Summit is to help service members identify what those skills are. Tim Ryan is with the US Army Garrison Hawai‘i. “We have engineers, cooks, medics who have all done their jobs under high intensity conditions,” said Ryan. “They have performed admirably and now it’s a matter of communicating those abilities, and more importantly their leadership skills, to the private sector to show what value they would bring to any corporation.”
Ryan said Wednesday’s large turnout is a good sign and hopes troops are taking the time to find the right job long before they leave.