Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Joint Base Lewis-McChord To Hold Its Largest-Ever Jobs Summit

This photo was taken at a Joint Base Lewis-McChord jobs fair in 2013.

More than 8,000 service members at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will be leaving the military in each of the next few years as the military draws down its force levels. The base is aiming to help them find work, and this week it’s holding its biggest ever jobs summit

Between 4,o00 to 5,000 service members as well as some 200 employers are expected to gather at the summit. One of the employers will be an Atlanta-based company called First Data, which helps businesses process payments and track inventory.

Jason Stanchfield, who works for First Data here in Washington state as a sales director, says he's keen to meet service members because he recalls how he felt job-hunting after he left the Navy in 1990.  

"I do know how nerve-wracking it was actually: a) looking for a job, but b) I was relocating back to my hometown area, so I didn’t have a lot of contacts," Stanchfield said. 

Stanchfield landed a job with a telecom company and says what clinched the deal was that the hiring manager also had been in the military. He understood that the skills Stanchfield had gained in a Navy communications and operations center would transfer.

Stanchfield says military experience can be a big asset in the business world.

"We know that they’re going to show up to work on time, they’re going to do the job they’re supposed to do and they’re actually going to excel in case of any kind of emergency," he said. "Usually you’re going to find they’re leaders amongst the teams they get brought onto."

First Data plans to hire five to 10 more people in Washington state.

The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans has been trending down lately but is still a little bit above the overall unemployment rate.

Recruiting Service Members Early

One thing that’s different about this jobs summit is that it’s targeting service members who may still have a year left to go before they transition out.

Eric Eversole runs Hiring Our Heroes, a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is helping to organize the event. He says they decided to start the job focus sooner to help service members avoid the panic of waiting until they get out to look for work.

"For many of them, that can be a very scary proposition because two to three weeks after their service, their paychecks stop. And then they start scrambling for work, because they have family members and other responsibilities they have to take care of," Eversole said.

Sponsors of the summit include Starbucks, Amazon, Toyota and Verizon. Gov. Jay Inslee, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer will be among the attendees.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.