[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                        June 12, 2009

Training assistance program 
helps military transition

By Rob Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff

Soon-to-be veterans accumulate many employment skills during the time they serve their country, but a final refinement can be just what they need to help prepare for a successful post-military career.

Photo: Joe Naylor of the State of Wisconsin Department of Work Force Development and the Office of Veterans Services explains his program during a briefing at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Joe Naylor of the State of Wisconsin Department of Work Force Development and the Office of Veterans Services explains his program during a briefing at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

Joe Naylor of the State of Wisconsin Department of Work Force Development and the Office of Veterans Services said the state presented a two-and-one-half-day Transitioning Assistance Program (TAP) employment workshop to retiring and separating servicemembers to help them prepare for a career after the Army. The workshop is held quarterly at Fort McCoy.

"We give them a lot of information in those two-and-one-half days," Naylor said. "We tell them about their veterans and educational benefits. We bring in several (employment) subject-matter experts to talk to them about the employment process."

Participants learn about the state, federal and post 9-11 G.I. Bill educational benefit programs. A representative from small business talks about opportunities in those fields. A presentation about Veterans Affairs vocational rehabilitation services is given to the group. Representatives from the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center at Fort McCoy talk about federal civilian opportunities and how to apply for those.

The participants learn the key people who can help them with the process, such as the county veterans service officers, veterans representatives, etc., Naylor said.

Participants are taken through the six steps to prepare for getting a job: personal appraisal, career exploration, strategies for an efficient job search, interviewing, reviewing job offers and support/assistance with contact information.

"Some of these topics are right up the veteranís alley as they have appeared before boards where they have to be prepared and make their case (to be promoted, Soldier of the Year, etc.)," he said. "In one exercise, we set up a mock interview where they play the interviewers or the job seekers."

"This is realistic because sometimes the interviewers donít have as much experience as they should have and work from a prepared set of questions. After the mock interview, we sit them down for a review of the process, much like an after-action review."

Common materials are used in the course, including from the National Veterans Training Institute in Colorado, the Ultimate Job Search DVDs, and workbooks and inserts from the Nova Business Technologies Inc.

Naylor and his partner also are veterans and have disability ratings, and pass their experience and knowledge of the system to workshop attendees.

Master Sgt. Daniel Kumm, who is retiring from the 397th Engineer Battalion of Eau Claire, Wis., said he attended because he was interested in preparing his resume for civilian and federal civilian employment opportunities.

"This is good for people both enhancing and initiating their interviewing skills," Kumm said. "This helps them build resumes, and helps them get rid of the military jargon and back to the civilian world."

Sgt. 1st Class Erik Rasmussen of the Fort McCoy Recruiting Company said the workshop gave him a good chance to transition from military employment to civilian employment.

"One of the more valuable experiences was the resume preparation and building job skills for interviews," Rasmussen said. "There was so much information Ö that no matter someoneís interest in being here, we came across it during the workshop or they could give you a person and a name to talk to."

Naylor said they work closely with Ken Quade of the Fort McCoy Directorate of Human Resources and Mitzi Hinton of the Soldier Readiness Center (SRC) to coordinate the workshops that are held quarterly at Fort McCoy.

Quade said the next workshop is scheduled for Aug. 3-6 and any military personnel who want more information or to register can contact him at 608-388-2318. Eligible military personnel can attend the workshop more than once. Any military retiree also is welcome to attend the workshop, he said.

Hinton runs the installationís Army Career and Alumni Program. In addition to the TAP workshop, the office helps transitioning Soldiers prepare for successful post-military careers by providing pre-separation briefings, educational and training information and referrals.

U.S. Army National Guard or Army Reserve Soldiers who have completed 180 days of active duty for up to six months after their release from active duty are eligible to receive this information and training.

Active Guard/Reserve or active-component Soldiers who are within two years of retirement or one year of separation also are eligible to receive transition-assistance information. For more information, call Hinton at 608-388-7941.


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