QM School program focuses on transition help, War Memorial
September 12, 2013
FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 12, 2013) -- About 130 Fort Lee Soldiers assigned to the Fort Lee Quartermaster School, Combined Arms Support Command, participated in a leadership development program Sept. 5 designed to broaden their understanding of the resources available for transitioning military members into the private sector.
During the half-day event at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, the junior and senior leaders learned about two local initiatives -- Soldier for Life and Virginia Values Veterans.
Brig. Gen. John E. O'Neil IV, Quartermaster General, hosted the educational classes and kicked them off by summarizing his goals for the program.
"We want to prepare our troops to translate their military job skills and services into something that civilian employers will want and understand," he said. "Our job as leaders is to create opportunities for retiring service members to move into the private sector with the necessary skills."
O'Neil opened his remarks with a note of thanks to those in attendance. "This is important training for America's finest," he continued. "We are making Soldiers better each day, and you're doing a fabulous job. You also have an incredible responsibility -- you represent America in everything you do."
He urged the Soldiers to continue to be active in the community and saluted their efforts.
"The military cannot be isolated from the nation it serves," O'Neil said. "We have to get outside the wire and be sure our communities know what we are doing each day."
The QM commander set the tone for the program by relating the history of the Virginia War Memorial, noting that they were in Freedom Hall -- a shrine to honor the more than 250 Virginians killed in the Global War on Terrorism.
"Today, we are at a sacred place. You may recognize some of the faces that surround us," he said. "American Soldiers have often served in dark and dangerous places. I hope you take some time to reflect on these surroundings and be proud of your service."
Lt. Col. Reed E. Hudgins, CASCOM Logistics Branch proponency chief, explained the Soldier for Life program, which connects Soldiers with opportunities to succeed across their entire careers, starting with their entry into military service.
"It is a credentialing program that develops opportunities for Soldiers to earn certifications on par with their civilian counterparts," said Hudgins. CASCOM is the lead for developing credentialing, licensing and certification programs for sustainment military occupational specialties.
"All of us will walk out the door someday and have a second job," he continued. "Most of you will have three-to-four other careers in the civilian world. The important point you must remember is that Soldiers are already trained for their next career. Your occupational training is worth money to you and a future employer. And someone -- the Army -- has paid for your training. You have skills and training that employers want. We just have to be sure they are documented."
He said the initiative focuses on the restructuring of the force, retaining its quality and keeping a commitment to veterans and their families.
"The end state for this program is to help Soldiers, veterans and families leave military service 'career ready' and find an established network connecting them with the employment, education, and health care required to successfully integrate into the community," he said.
Hudgins said that America has been engaged in combat for more than 11 years. About 130,000 Soldiers will transition annually, and more than 1 million in the next 10 years.
"This initiative also is about those who serve in the future," he said. "The imperative of sustaining the All-Volunteer Army is directly affected by how well the veterans reintegrate back into the nation's communities."
He shared a quote from then Gen. George Washington who in 1783 spoke about how veterans should be treated when they left the service, which stated. "'The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.'"
Hudgins noted that Washington "made this pronouncement 230 years ago -- about a year before a treaty was signed."
Retired Lt. Col. Joseph C. Barto III, founder and president of TMG, Inc., Hampton, outlined the Virginia Values Veterans program to the participants. It encourages smaller businesses to hire veterans, National Guardsmen and Reservists.
"V3 helps make Virginia a model of economic development by creating a Commonwealth-wide approach to leverage proven men and women in its workforce and reduce veteran unemployment," said Barto who is a West Point graduate and deployed in Operation Desert Shield and Storm. While there, he was chief of operations for the 24th Infantry Division (about 25,000 Soldiers).
"We're about educating employers about veterans. It's an economic development issue -- a public and private partnership," said Barto.
He said that since July 2012, V3 has received commitments from 110 Virginia employers to focus on hiring veterans. These businesses with less than 1,000 employees have pledged to fill 4,111 jobs. As of Aug. 19, the companies have hired 2,579 veterans.
"There are about 1 million manufacturing jobs in Virginia and veterans could fill a large number of these. Our target is 40,000 veterans hired and retained for one year," Barto said.
In Virginia, there are 150,000 employers with 1,000 or fewer employees.
Another key goal is to get 1-out-of-3 of all these employers to hire and retain veterans, he said.
"We have many 'sleeper agents' out there who have helped their businesses become veteran friendly and veteran strong," Barto said. "I urge you to become an expert in something -- that's the way to get into a business. This is the first time in your life that you get to pick your boss," which drew applause and laughter from the group.
"There are thousands of opportunities in the private sector, but you want just one job. We want six employers competing to hire a veteran due to their comprehensive skills and training," he continued.
In addition to participating in the leader development training, the Soldiers toured the memorial in four groups led by docents, who are retired Army Soldiers and Marines. The memorial is the Commonwealth of Virginia's monument to honor the memory of Virginia's men and women who demonstrated a willingness to serve and fight.
The one-hour tour included all exhibits and viewing several oral history films that tell the stories of men and women who served in many wars and a near virtual reality film.
They also had time to reflect in the Shrine of Memory, which has nearly 12,000 names of Virginians who died in conflict engraved on the glass and stone walls.