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A total of 88 vendors, which involved nearly 40 colleges and universities, more than 20 employers and numerous representatives for agencies and career skills programs, were on hand to provide information about education and career opportunities during the Fort Cavazos College, Credentialing & Career Fair at the Soldier Development Center Thursday.

Soldiers lined up to speak to representatives from various organizations about college and employment opportunities at the Fort Cavazos College, Credentialing & Career Fair at the Soldier Development Center Thursday.

A total of 88 vendors, which involved nearly 40 colleges and universities, more than 20 employers and numerous representatives for agencies and career skills programs, were on hand to provide information about education and career opportunities. Some employers even provided on-the-spot interviews. There were also credentialing opportunities offered through the Credentialing Assistance Program.

Sheri Buono, education services officer, explained that it was important to provide an opportunity for Soldiers and family members to ask questions directly.

“It’s nice to be able to bring those schools and programs to a Soldier to be able to ask face-to-face questions,” she said. “Same thing with the credentialing opportunities and certainly, I think from an employer perspective. Being able to connect and make that connection between someone who’s transitioning out and looking for employment or a spouse who’s just arrived and looking for employment. I think that’s invaluable.”

Education Center background

The Fort Cavazos Education Center has five schools — Central Texas College, Texas A&M University Central Texas, Excelsior University, University of Maryland Global and Upper Iowa University — housed within the center to accommodate Soldiers.

Buono noted that Soldiers are not restricted to just those campuses. Advisors from those schools are always available at the center, but the event provided a larger variety of colleges and universities to choose from.

“It just gives them a broader opportunity to be that wise consumer and have that face-to-face opportunity to learn about their programs,” she said.

Spc. Robson Rodrigues, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, explained that he got out of the military the first time in 2019 and that having access to all the different resources has made his current plans to transition even easier.

“Coming in here, you can see how much things have improved,” he said. “I couldn’t be more confident now this time around when I get out.”

Rodrigues plans to get out in April 2024 and pursue a career in cybersecurity. He says the Transition Assistance Program taught him so much about things he never considered, like targeted resumes and the importance of having more than one.

“It opened up options and gave me more tools,” he said. “It’s really good to have programs like this. Not just on Fort Cavazos, but every military installation needs to have a program like this because getting out is really hard.”

Transition Assistance Program

Jerry Hernandez, marketing manager for the Transition Assistance Program, agrees that transitioning out of the military can be overwhelming.

“They don’t know what they’re getting into,” he said. “The military has told them what to wear, what to do and where to be. So now it’s a new beginning for them. They have to learn how to dress, how to talk differently, so that’s what the Transition Assistance Program does for them. Getting them ready for that next transition. Whether it’s a new career or going back to school.”

Hernandez said the TAP assists Soldiers with resumes, applying for school and pursuing a career. He noted that the career skills programs with companies such as Ford and General Motors allow Soldiers to take up to six months to work with a company to see if it’s a good fit.

“It’s great because the Soldiers are still in the military and there’s no charge to the company,” he explained. We call it “the six-month job interview.”’

Transitioning out of the military

Spc. Faith Henry, 3rd Main Command Post Operational Detachment, III Armored Corps Reserve Component, wasn’t sure if she wanted to get out and work for the VA or a children’s hospital or reenlist to become an officer, but she was adamant about pursuing her education. She shared that her motivation stems from a mentor who took a particular interest in her future and encouraged her to pursue her education. She graduates with a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration at the end of the month and is looking to pursue a Master of Business Administration with a focus in healthcare management at Texas A&M University Central Texas thereafter. She said that events like this are important because Soldiers are often unaware of the benefits and services they have access to.

“I’ve been in eight years now, but didn’t know anything about the education center, didn’t know what they did, didn’t know anything about my benefits. Didn’t even know I had GI Bill, didn’t know about TA. I never used any of that, until now,” she said.

Hernandez expressed that situations like Henry’s are common. When asked what advice he had for transitioning Soldiers, his response was simple.

“Start early, come often,” he urged. “Come as much as you can before you get out. Don’t wait until the paperwork is done.”