Veterans from as far away as Peach County came to Glennville on Wednesday to compete for hundreds of law-enforcement jobs open to former military members.
Only 45 minutes after the Military Recruitment Job Fair began, Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens reported that 10 veterans already had received jobs.
“We could hire literally on-the-spot today up to 200 people,” said Owens, who added that the promotion opportunities in state law enforcement are endless. “We will be back to do this again right here in October or November. Not only do we need their military service and experience, but it’s the right thing for us to do for the service they’ve already given our country.”
Owens said virtually any position in the military translates into an opportunity at a state law-enforcement agency. He said the transition from military to law enforcement usually is a smooth one because military personnel already are used to working in a structured environment.
When veterans entered the National Guard Armory, they were asked to register by providing information that included their branch of service and military occupational specialty.
Some positions required a more extensive hiring process than others. Sgt. Dawn Arrowood of the Georgia Department of Public Safety said procedures to get a job with the department begin with a physical-training test. If the candidate passes, he or she interviews. After that step, candidates undergo a thorough background check, a polygraph and physical and psychological exams. If they get through all those steps, she said, they may be offered a job.
By noon, Arrowood said her department had received some “pretty good candidates” already. Public safety includes the Georgia State Patrol, Capitol Police and Motor Carrier Compliance Division.
One of the law-enforcement candidates taking a PT test Wednesday was Juan Nazario, who said he was applying for a probation-officer position. He, like most of the other candidates still panting after the long-distance run, preregistered online for the job fair.
Another candidate, Franklin Campbell, admitted he wasn’t dressed for a PT test, but he was interested in positions in pardons and parole as well as juvenile justice. As the Army veteran spoke with Robert Long, regional recruiter for Juvenile Justice in Eastman, he said he was looking for work that would allow him to use his degree and military experience.
“I will be graduating with a degree in social work from Fort Valley State University in two weeks,” Campbell said. “I also have a background in criminal justice.”
Rick Ayala, a former infantry paratrooper now serving as a veterans’ representative with the Georgia Department of Labor, said he was there not only to help recruit veterans to the DOL, but also as proof that state agencies hire veterans in all fields. Ayala said he likes his job because he gets to work with veterans, which helps him stay connected to the military.
Col. Mark London, director of Joint and Family Services for the Georgia National Guard, agreed with Owens’ statement about the correlation between military service and law enforcement.
“(Law enforcement) is very paramilitary,” he said. “A lot of the employees in the agencies here today are former military. (The Air and Army National Guard) partnered with the state’s law-enforcement agencies to have this job fair.”
In addition to state agencies, Corrections Corporation of America recruited for a variety of vacancies in Georgia and other states. According to CCAjob.com, CCA is a civilian contractor that designs, finances, builds, owns and manages prisons and jails for state and federal agencies.