The Defense Department's Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program, is forcing tens of thousands of government workers in Northern Virginia to make some difficult choices. Arlington County is coordinating career fairs to help employees find other work.
Derrick Dortch coordinates BRAC Career Fairs for the county, including the one that took place Thursday in Crystal City. More than 1,100 people registered for the event, which had representatives from 35 government agencies.
Dortch says the biggest challenge for many longtime government employees is relearning basic job-searching skills such as interviewing and networking.
"That is kind of the big hurdle that we're dealing with right now...teaching somebody who's been working for 20, 25, 30 years about, 'Now, I gotta search for a job,'" he says.
Dortch says there are 17,000 people directly affected by BRAC decisions in Arlington County alone -- and that's only counting government workers. Many private contracting companies are moving as well.
Chris Mussomele's office is moving to Kentucky, and he's been looking for a new job for the past two years so he can stay in the D.C. area, where his wife is a teacher. He says the recession has flooded the job market.
"A lot of people...in the private industry are unemployed, so they're looking for the government jobs to get into, so there's a lot of competition," he says.
Arlington's BRAC office is planning another career fair for the spring. Most of the base realignments and closures take effect next summer.