IMCOM strives to better prepare Soldiers, families
December 31, 2012
SAN ANTONIO -- The U.S. Army Installation Management Command is committed to assisting Soldiers and families transition smoothly into civilian employment and America's communities.
In response to the president's and U.S. Army's emphasis on a career-ready military, IMCOM is highlighting job fairs, expanding its transition services and keenly focusing on identifying employment opportunities within the command, as well as business and industry.
"Our Soldiers deserve the best we can offer them, including the best opportunities for the future," said Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter, commanding general, U.S. Army Installation Management Command, known as IMCOM.
"We're making sure Soldiers can't slip through the cracks," Ferriter said. "We will do everything we can to help prepare them for civilian life as thoroughly as we equip them for battle. We owe that to our veterans in exchange for their life of service and sacrifice to this nation."
All transitioning Soldiers, from those retiring to first-term enlistees, have a wealth of opportunity at their fingertips thanks in large part to the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act, which Congress approved in October 2011. The VOW Act is the driving force behind the completely revamped transition program, according to Kenric Echols, chief of military personnel, IMCOM G1.
"Changes went into effect on November 21st," Echols said. "But we're already getting lots of phone calls and inquiries about the new transition program. The intent is to better prepare transitioning Soldiers and their families and get them in touch with potential employers, hopefully resulting in job offers."
That's good news for Soldiers, the Army and the nation, according to Ferriter.
What does the new program look like? Soldiers transitioning this fiscal year will receive mandatory pre-separation counseling that includes in-depth discussion of veterans benefits, financial planning, civilian employment readiness training, and a heavy emphasis on individualized transition plans over a longer time period.
Transitioning Soldiers can also expect more individual attention and counseling on resume writing and practice interviews. And depending on a Soldier's preference, the program will include a detailed workshop focusing on one of three areas -- education, technical skills or small business ownership. Spouses are highly encouraged to participate in the five-day transition program as well, according to Echols.
"They can attend all sessions or some, and we have resources to help them in their search for employment as well," he said.
IMCOM has already found that engaged and educated spouses are a key enabler to a successful transition from military service.
Job fairs are also a critical part of the process. Echols emphasized that they provide a meeting place for military members and employers to connect, provide valuable networking opportunities, and give Soldiers better insight into the pay available within the private and public sectors. Garrisons around the globe are now required to host a minimum of two employment events, such as community job fairs, each fiscal year.
Many garrisons are exceeding that goal by partnering with other agencies such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has a proven track record for connecting business to our talented Soldiers.
"We are also expanding the use of job fairs, allowing Soldiers to engage potential employers remotely, even from overseas," he said.
Soldiers can sign up for a virtual career fair program at https://www.acap.army.mil/. A listing and details on all the IMCOM job fairs is available at http://www.imcom.army.mil/Organization/G1Personnel/ACAP/JobFairMap.aspx.
Federal employment is another great avenue available to Soldiers. It's estimated that as much as 60 percent of the federal civilian workforce will be retiring in the next decade. This opens a wide variety of federal jobs, and few people will be more qualified to fill those positions than today's Soldiers.
Those who have served in combat, have been decorated for valor, or have combat related injuries or disabilities, may find entry into federal service easier due to veterans' preferences and streamlined hiring practices.
The Army relies heavily on Army civilians every day. Army civilians write contracts, deliver goods, manage networks, and provide support functions that would otherwise present distractions to training and wartime operations.
Civilians man the training ranges, run the finance offices and in some cases cook the meals and manage the personnel actions. From the sound of reveille to when a Soldier turns out the lights in the barracks at the end of the day, Soldiers are supported by their civilian counterparts.
"There's not much difference in how you feel about your job and how you conduct business in and out of uniform," said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Willie Wilson, who today runs the Army's World Class Athlete Program for the Installation Management Command. "And in most Army civilian positions, you're still taking care of Soldiers and their families."
I'm glad that's still part of my job description," he added.
The skill sets and training Soldiers receive during active duty, whether they serve for four years or 20, directly translate to the Army civilian workforce. Making the switch from uniformed to civilian service is easier than ever before and IMCOM's Transition Services Programs are working to ensure Soldiers and their families are educated on how to cross-walk the Military Occupational Specialties to requirements of civilian positions.
"I'm certain that in the coming decades our Soldiers will give this country as much as they have in the past 10 years of war," Ferriter said. "While it's important to do all we can to support them no matter what path they choose after separating or retiring, we're also positioning the Army of 2020 to retain their knowledge, skills, enthusiasm, patriotism and willingness to serve."