When I walked into the VA for Vets job fair at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans this past summer, I was trying to get out of the trucking industry. I’m a disabled Veteran, and there wasn’t much more driving I could do. I was trying to find something that would fit my needs.
I thought it was going to be a typical job fair, but the representatives at the event did more than talk, they acted. They didn’t just stand behind their tables passing out brochures; they welcomed me, walked up to me, shook my hand, and talked to me. They seemed determined to make sure I was in the best shape possible, from benefits to healthcare to mental health to employment.
Employment coaches sat and talked to me about my experiences in the Army. When they learned of skills that could carry over into current civilian positions, they sat with me and showed me how to display those abilities on my resume. They also introduced me to some online tools to help with my job search. I thought it was going to be hard, but it was easy — and at the same time, I had someone there to help me. The coaches stood right there by my side so if I had a problem they could say, ‘hey, push this button here.’
Employment recruiters then interviewed me on the spot and I began my professional career with the VA that same day. Now I am a proud and productive member of the Veteran Administration’s Healthcare Recruitment and Retention office and full-time student working towards my college degree. I have left the stress and struggle of dissatisfying, short-lived jobs behind and I am optimistic and excited about my future.
The next VA for Vets hiring fair will take place in Detroit from June 26-28. Veterans can register now and prepare by requesting a coach to help them build their federal resumes and apply in advance for positions that will be available at the event. By setting up a free account in VA for Vets Career Center, they can translate their military skills, take self-assessments and even save their resumes so that hiring managers can find them and match them with future openings. I encourage other Veterans like me to check it out and consider a career serving our nation’s Veterans.
My experience with VA for Vets reminded me that my 10 years of Army service means something to the VA. Now I’m looking forward to being the representative who comes from behind the table determined to make a difference in another Veteran’s life.
Brandon Williams is a Program Support Assistant in the Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare Retention and Recruitment Office in New Orleans, Louisiana. He spent more than 10 years in the US Army.