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Center will help former MacDill servicemembers stay in Tampa

Every year about 1,200 to 1,500 servicemembers from MacDill Air Force Base leave the service.

But only 40 percent stay in Tampa, says Scott DeThomas, who wants to change that ratio.

One of the last things DeThomas did before turning over the MacDill Air Force Base key ring to the new base commander was attend last week’s opening of the CareerSource Tampa Bay MacDill Transition Center that he helped make a reality.

“This is an opportunity to bring our civilian resources to bare on helping service men and women and spouses find work in the local community,” said DeThomas, who last Friday found himself out of a job, at least temporarily, when he passed command to Col. Daniel Tulley. “Right now, we know that about six out of every 10 who transition out of the military at MacDill end up somewhere else than Tampa. There are a lot of great resources that want to help. Unfortunately, the military does not have a lot of resources to make available.”

As base commander, DeThomas was in charge of a massive operation with nearly $3 billion in assets that pumps about $5 billion into the local economy.

But even he has limitations.

“You can only do certain things in our government buildings,” DeThomas said. “It prevents me sometimes from opening up the aperture.”

By setting up a facility on base, the first of its kind in the Air Mobility Command, DeThomas said it will be easier to reach service members before they get out.

“This provides a venue to bring people onto the base and share resources,” said DeThomas.

Local business owners, who have jobs to offer, will have a place to reach out, said DeThomas, adding that this effort is a supplement to the military’s Transition Assistance Program.

The MacDill Transition Center will offer re-employment assistance to transitioning service members and spouses, job search assistance, resume review, employer information sessions, recruitment events, referrals to community partners/agencies and information on job centers, according to CareerSource officials.

The center will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. It will have two staff members — a local veteran employment representative and business services team member — who will be available to assist with workforce needs.

“The Transition Center will serve as a job exchange for Veterans who are seeking employment,” said CareerSource Tampa Bay President and CEO Edward Peachey.

CareerSource Tampa Bay will host employers who are recruiting for open positions within their respective businesses and provide veterans with immediate and future opportunities to interview for jobs in the Tampa Bay area, Peachey said.

“We believe this initiative will provide an efficient process for veterans to find employment and an effective method of talent recruitment for employers,” Peachey said.

For more information, go to https://careersourcetampabay.com.

DeThomas hasn’t told me what he plans on doing for work now.

But he does say that, if they are willing, he wants to spend time at the transition center helping others do what he is doing — create a life in Tampa after a career in uniform.

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