Hiring summit bridges business transition for service members

  • Published
  • By Caroline Clauson
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio—Returning bigger than the year before, the Hiring Our Heroes Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Career Summit drew over 170 hopeful employees and almost 60 employees eager to offer opportunities to those who have served April 28.

At the event, Col. Charles Barkhurst, 88th Air Base Wing vice commander, introduced Retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell, former senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the summit’s special guest and Hiring our Heroes ambassador.

“It’s clearly evident by how many times we do these career summits that you genuinely and authentically care about your transitioning service members, military spouses and the veteran community here in the Dayton area by hosting these events,” Troxell said.

Troxell encouraged separating service members to re-channel their value of selfless sacrifice into tackling specific objectives to create a positive future post-military service for themselves and their families.

“What are your goals post-military life?” Troxell asked attendees. “Some folks when they leave the military, they want to go fishing and sit on their back porch and drink Miller Lite or something like that. And hey, if that’s you, God bless you. But you’re here for a reason. You’re looking for opportunity. So you have to clearly define what you want to do.”

“The idea is to start early on your transition and focus on that. And one of the things that is a key tenant of military service is selfless service. We always speak about others before yourself, and it has to be that way for us to be effective under the worst conditions in combat. But I will tell you right now, as you’re getting ready to go through your transition, it’s about you. And you’ve got to make sure that you’re doing the things necessary to take care of you, your family and what you want to do post-military life.”

Job seekers spent the morning learning about civilian workforce benefits, culture, tools and tips for success from employer panels and other speakers.

A job fair in the afternoon invited prospective employees to practice the new skills. During the event, employers from Amazon and Lowes to Lockheed Martin and U.S. House of Representatives offices set up booths to prioritize recruiting transitioning service members, veterans, military spouses and caregivers to more than 40,000 open positions.

Attending the summit paid off for retired 88th Security Forces Squadron service member Willie Tucker, who walked away from the fair with two job offers.

“My mentor, my former flight chief, sent me out here because he knew I was getting ready to separate, and he wanted me to put my best foot forward,” Nelson said. “I made a lot of connections. It was great to see a lot of these companies I didn’t even know about.”

Retired Master Sgt. Luke Bistor, a former member of the 338th Recruiting Squadron at Wright-Patterson, experienced the long-term benefits of Hiring our Heroes, returning as an employer at the 2023 event.

Thanks to support and guidance from Hiring our Heroes, Bistor went from seeking a job opportunity through the SkillBridge program last year to managing and recruiting for the SkillBridge program at KBR, a science, technology and engineering company, during this year’s job fair.

“Now that I’m on the other side, I haven’t found anything better than Hiring our Heroes,” Bistor said. “It’s really nice to just be able to partner with people and be in a group of people who are going through the exact same thing you are going through to make sure you’re on the right path.”

Hiring Our Heroes, a program by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, holds hiring events across the globe to connect the military community with the civilian business world and create economic opportunity and a strong and diversified workforce. Since its beginning in 2011, the program has hosted more than 1,425 hiring events and facilitated over 617,000 hires.