Military spouses celebrated at annual job fair

Kenend Webster of Fort Washington talks with talent acquisition specialist Elizabeth Hardesty during the Military Spouse Job Fair that drew 150 job seekers. (Photo by Phil Grout)

Employment opportunities weren’t all that was offered at the Fort Meade Military Spouse Job Fair.

A free, resume-review service was provided in one room, while massages and a coffee station were in another.

More than 150 military spouses attended the four-hour event, which was held April 26 at McGill Training Center.

The annual job fair was held in conjunction with the Military Spouse Appreciation Relaxation Station as part of Fort Meade’s observance of National Military Spouse Appreciation Day on May 12.

Among the job seekers was Mary Ivey, a phlebotomist and medical assistant.

“This is very interesting and informative,” said Ivey, wife of Sgt. Maj. Charles Ivey of the Defense Information Systems Agency.

She said job openings offered by representatives of Anne Arundel Medical Center piqued her interest.

Sgt. Mario Diaz looks over job opportunity literature at the Fort Meade Military Spouse Job Fair held April 26 at McGill Training Center. (Photo by Phil Grout)

“This is really nice — and great,” Ivey said. “It’s an honor to have this event for military spouses. I feel special. Our loved ones put their lives on the line, and it’s good to know people think of us as well.”

Fort Meade has recognized military spouses with an appreciation event for the past seven years.

“The event is to recognize the Fort Meade community’s military spouses for their roles in support of their service member,” said Pia Morales, Mobilization and Deployment Program manager and organizer of the Relaxation Station.

The job fair, which featured more than 45 employers, was sponsored by Navy Information Operations Command Maryland, the Fleet and Family Support Center, Anne Arundel County Workforce Development and Army Community Service.

Karol Yox, Employment Readiness manager at the Fleet and Family Support Center and organizer of the job fair, said military spouses are challenged with finding employment as they move with their service member from duty station to duty station.

“Spouses are resilient and meet the challenge. However, they deserve help in finding employment in their chosen career path,” Yox said. “Many of our spouses are highly skilled and educated and come to their new home with a great work ethic and desire to succeed.

“Spouses sacrifice a lot in support of their service member. I feel we owe it to them to do what we are able to do to set them up for success.”

Mostafa El-Hamalawy, a talent acquisition and development manager at Valorous, a women-owned small business based in Sterling, Va., that supports military forces overseas, said the company is dedicated to supporting service members and their families.

“We met several people who had the foreign language skills to be potential hires,” he said.

The array of military spouses seeking jobs speak Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Taglog, which is spoken in the Philippines.

“We’re very happy [with the selection of candidates],” El-Hamalawy said.

Job seekers also had the option of having their resumes reviewed at no charge by the Anne Arundel County Workforce Development Center.

Massage therapist Linda Penkala gives a seated massage to a military spouse. (Photo by Phil Grout)

Taking It Easy

Tessa Foegelle, wife of Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Sam Foegelle of NIOC, was looking for an entry-level teaching job.

“The job fair is very helpful,” she said. “There are no crowds like other job fairs, and it’s quiet and easy to talk to people.”

Foegelle also enjoyed the relaxation station, which offered a coffee station, pastries and a catered lunch by Mission BBQ and the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

“It was good to sit down and have a break with something good to eat,” she said. “It’s the small stuff that counts.”

More than 100 military spouses visited the station, which was sponsored by Corvias Military Living and the Fort Meade Alliance.

Seated massages were offered by massage therapists from Optimum Health For Life, a holistic wellness company.

Lisa Rickard, wife of Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard, and Connie Cullen, wife of Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Brian S. Cullen, were among the military spouses from each service branch who greeted participants as they entered the Relaxation Station.

“This is awesome,” Cullen said of the seated massage. “I’ve never had one but I hear that it’s great. There’s a long line for it. It’s an added bonus.”

This was the second year that Jamie Young, wife of retired Lt. Col. Jimmy Young, attended the event.

“It’s such a friendly atmosphere,” she said. “We really appreciate all that Fort Meade has done to make this happen.”

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