DVIDS – News – USAG Benelux Spotlight: Chris Bridges
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DVIDS – News – USAG Benelux Spotlight: Chris Bridges

(Editor’s Note: In this series, we shine a spotlight on our workforce in and around the Benelux. The spotlight is on Chris Bridges, center manager for the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Lite for the Army Community Service (ACS) in Brussels, Belgium, who enjoys seeking out the latest employment trends to share with community members who cross his path.)

BRUSSELS, Belgium – In her daily work at ACS, Christine Bridges supports garrison staff by providing programs and services to new community members while sharing her strong passion for helping people successfully pursue their future career goals.

For Bridges, building garrison support for staff in Brussels comes in the form of providing workspace to organizations like the Red Cross, the United Service Organization and Family Morale Welfare and Recreation that provide services to the military population.

While striving to provide new arrivals with a satisfying life, Bridges is always thinking about the future of those he meets along the way, especially soldiers transitioning from active duty to civilian life.

“When I was looking for a job after I got out of the military, I had a huge adjustment,” Bridges said. “I had trouble understanding what it was that I had that would make me valuable to an employer.”

Bridges joined the Army with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology. She was assigned as an engineer during her enlistment and learned all about the trade. But when she left eight years later, she didn’t have a doctorate in psychology to sell or an engineering degree.

Bridges explained that retiring soldiers have many more skills than you might think at first. How much equipment were you responsible for? Were you responsible for someone else—even just one person? Did you take on a project? All of these skills and more can be used to enhance your resume and promote yourself.

“Every position you hold, paid or unpaid, comes with a lot of different responsibilities,” Bridges said.

Not only is it difficult to define yourself at every stage of life, but soldiers may also find that they lack a strong network of interpersonal connections and resources due to frequent moves to new duty stations.

“Most people find good jobs through their networks, but if you were pulled out of your network by the military and you moved every three years … your network really took a hit,” Bridges said.

Transition programs and job training can help make job hunting easier. Through research, Bridges has discovered that some of these training programs can be flawed and should be investigated before deciding to enroll. Instead of taking into account a worker’s experience and future, they can lead to crappy jobs that benefit no one but the employer, such as providing a steady stream of workers for jobs with high turnover.

“The reason I like learning all this is that I know the good programs and I can gently steer people away from the bad programs,” Bridges said. “We have to be really careful and really selective in what we recommend to transitioning service members, veterans and spouses.”

He often advises people to look at the job offer holistically before accepting it. Some people may accept a job without hesitation, driven by excitement or fear of losing the opportunity, without considering other key factors such as the cost of living or the availability of support agencies.

Bridges’ passion for employability doesn’t end when the workday ends. Bridges is still often found in social conversations that turn to employment. She enjoys sharing her knowledge, but she also sees engaging people as a possible future career opportunity.

“Every interaction with another person is a bit like a job interview,” she said.

Bridges sees a need to stay up to date with the ever-changing employment ecosystem and how it differs in each location. Her personal social media channels continue to provide more interesting information.

“I make sure I’m up to date on the most effective and best tools … that I understand the trends,” Bridges said. “Any veteran or retiring service member, spouse, family member that ever crosses my path — I want to make sure that if they ever ask me a question or need information, I’m ready to help.”

This Spotlight series will continue to tell the stories of our workforce in and around the Benelux. We are the home of the Army – we are IMCOM.

Date of execution: 07/10/2024
Date published: 07/10/2024 08:04
Story ID: 475824

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