Top Fort Benning NCO starts ACAP process
March 29, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. (March 28, 2012) -- The Army Career and Alumni Program is here to assist Soldiers transitioning from the military to a civilian workforce -- whether a Soldier is transitioning from the military after a short career, a long one or if he is the command sergeant major of the Maneuver Center of Excellence.
Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Hardy is preparing for his retirement after 26 years in the Army.
The decision of when to retire wasn't an easy one for him and his wife, Angie, he said.
"Originally, we were planning to retire after my tour as the 75th Ranger Regiment command sergeant major," Hardy said.
He said then Maj. Gen. Michael Ferriter asked him to be the command sergeant major for the Maneuver Center of Excellence. Hardy became the command sergeant major of Fort Benning in 2010.
"That extended the time a little bit," he said.
He's been gearing up for his retirement in between performing his duties as command sergeant major.
Once the decision was made, Hardy started the ACAP process, completing the first phase last week -- the pre-separation checklist and Individual Transition Plan. The pre-separation checklist details the services and benefits earned while on active duty. After the checklist is completed, a Soldier will meet with a counselor to develop the Individual Transition Plan. The ITP is an individual plan of action that lists activities in a timeline that the Soldier can use while transitioning.
Hopp said ACAP helps put Soldiers on the path to their next career.
"When I retired from the Army, I didn't really have a clue," he said. "I knew generally because of what I had done in the Army, but I was not prepared. And we don't want anyone to have that same situation."
ACAP gives Soldiers a fishing pole -- the skills and techniques -- They can use over and over again to succeed.
"The more you put into it the more you get out of it. What are you going to get out of it? The job you want and not the job you're going to have to take," he said.
Hopp said the transition for those who have been in the military for many years doesn't have to be difficult, because they have the skills employers want.
"You know how to deal with policies and procedures, you know about meeting deadlines, you know about doing the job right in the first place -- that's why hundreds of companies want former Soldiers," Hopp said.
For younger Soldiers who haven't been in the military long, Hopp said on-the-job training or going back to school is important.
"Most, particularly the younger Soldiers, will have four to five job changes at least in their lifetime," he said.
But in general, Hopp said, everyone should not only have a plan A, but a plan B and C as well.
And it starts with ACAP, Hopp said.