By Army Sgt. Zoe Morris, West Virginia National Guard
| Recruiting and Retention Command, West Virginia Army National Guard | Nov. 21, 2018
The West Virginia Army National Guard (WVARNG) Fixed Wing Army National Guard Aviation Training Site (FWAATS) in Bridgeport, W.Va., hosted the first-ever WVARNG military career fair Nov. 13 through 15, 2018, for high school and college students in Harrison County, W. Va., and the surrounding areas.
Over the course of three evenings, students from around the region were invited to visit FWAATS, the only Army National Guard (ARNG) training site in the United States that provides Army aviator fixed wing training instruction, for an in-depth look into the facility and the WVARNG community. The tours focused on the capabilities at FWAATS, military careers within the WVARNG, and partnerships with civilian business and organizations in the community, according to recruiter Staff Sgt. Lynda Tulanowski, lead event planner.
"The largest turnout for this year’s fair was from college students who were interested in aviation and aerospace careers as fixed-wing pilots, engine repair technicians, engine and jet designers, and students in related career paths," Tulanowski said.
Harrison county is home to offices for aviation industry leaders such as Lockheed Martin, Aurora Flight Services, Bombardier, Pratt and Whitney Engine Services, and non-aviation employers such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). With many students wanting to stay in the local area to pursue careers, showcasing the capabilities and training opportunities of the WVARNG provided students first-hand exposure to career paths they may be exploring, and a better understanding of how the WVARNG may help in those pursuits.
“By joining the WVARNG, these students have the backing of a large, tight-knit community of professionals behind them,” Tulanowski said. “Even if they do not choose an aviation-related career in the military, they can take a civilian degree and apply for a job with military experience, a clean drug test and, often, a security clearance.”
Tulanowski stated the event was a success, and that establishing a military career fair as an annual event for the area will be an important recruiting effort for the WVARNG. The long-time recruiter said she is already planning for 2019, with dates already on the calendar for the high school and colleges in the area.
"What I want them to see is that we have something for everybody, and that the WVARNG is a viable and exciting opportunity for those exploring their futures," she said.