Fort McCoy News November 22, 2013

ACAP/TAP holds course for separating Soldiers

STORY & PHOTO BY ROB SCHUETTE
Public Affairs Staff

Soldiers who are retiring, separating from the military or returning from deployments received employment counseling at an Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP)/Transition Assistance Program (TAP) workshop held at Fort McCoy in early November.

Jerry Welsh, the facilitator for the Veterans Opportunity to Work program of the Department of Labor, said ACAP attendees indicated they did not have a job or education programs planned after their service ended. Welsh works for Inverness Technologies, which has provided these workshops to approximately 90,000 people around the world.

Photo for ACAP article
Jessica Williams, the job support and educational manager for National Guard employment, answers questions from military personnel attending an Army Career and Alumni Program/Transition Assistance Program workshop at Fort McCoy.

"They learn transition skills here," Welsh said. "Some have 20-plus years of service, while others are being demobilized (and have returned from deployments)."

Their biggest issue is transitioning back to civilian life and translating their military skills to the civilian job world, he said.

For the senior personnel, it might be a fair amount of time since they actually did the work in their military occupational specialty.

These personnel should highlight their leadership and mentoring skills, the counseling they provided, the reports they submitted and their skills working with other people.

ACAP attendees learn basic skills of preparing a resume and interviewing for a job, he said.

Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Mosteller of the 1st Battalion, 310th Infantry of the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy is retiring and took the training to learn how to write an effective resume and sell himself and his skills in the civilian job realm.

"This training was worth its weight in gold," he said. "I'm confident that I will find a job."

One of the benefits of the training is to network with and learn from others in the class, he said.

Sgt. 1st Class John Oehme, an Active Guard/Reserve Readiness noncommissioned officer for B Company of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Special Troops Battalion, said the training helped personnel find websites to assist their job search. The support personnel helped them with the practical ways to prepare for the civilian world.

"The demobing personnel were perhaps more reluctant to talk at first, but the environment here helped them open up," Oehme said. "They were an interesting and diverse bunch who brought a lot of insight. I was able to tell some of them about the opportunities in my unit."

Welsh said the demobing Soldiers don't receive ACAP services at their demobilization site because at that time they are more interested in returning to their home stations as soon as possible.

So Soldiers from B Battery of the 1st, 121st (1st, 121st) Field Artillery, a Wisconsin National Guard unit from Plymouth, demobilized at Fort Bliss, Texas, before coming to Fort McCoy for the ACAP.

Sgt. Gregory Mayeshiba of the 1st, 121st said the process worked well because he could concentrate on the ACAP issues at Fort McCoy.

Mayeshiba recommended anyone coming to the ACAP prepare at least a basic resume beforehand.

The information and assistance they received from the ACAP facilitators was helpful in refining it, he said.

"The ACAP people have put a lot of thought into the training," Mayeshiba said. "They want you to succeed and become employed."

Sgt. 1st Class Craig Laurin, also of B Battery, 1st, 121st Field Artillery, said the training was a very good time to polish resume writing and interviewing skills.

"It's good to do this here instead of at the demobilization site because we just wanted to get home from there," Laurin said.

"Here we have a little more time to work on it. People are in the same position we are, and you can get help with your interview skills and get feedback from other personnel."

Sgt. Peter Lawlor of the 1st, 121st said the training was valuable because it helped him develop a professional-looking resume.

"It also opened my eyes to the resources available to veterans out there," Lawlor said. "The program allowed for one-on-one help so they could answer all our questions."

Lawlor said the ACAP also allowed him to talk to the military retirees, which helped open the door for him to pursue employment in the criminal justice field.

The next ACAP/TAP workshop at Fort McCoy is Feb. 3-7, 2014. Demobing personnel are welcome to attend. Any service members separating or retiring within the next 12 months are required to attend.

For more information about ACAP/TAP services and workshops in the Fort McCoy community, call Tom Kunz, Fort McCoy ACAP counselor, at 608-388-7941 or visit the website www.acap.army.mil.