By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterMay 9, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 9, 2013) -- Transitioning out of the military can be a daunting task for any Soldiers, and with the draw down in forces, more Soldiers are entering the civilian workforce.
The Army Career Alumni Program is designed to help those Soldiers transitioning move from military life to civilian life, and Fort Rucker's ACAP program will be able to facilitate more Soldiers at its new location at the Army Education Center in Bldg. 4502 when the move is finalized in June.
The new location, on the second floor of the building, will allow ACAP to help up to 80 students at one time if needed, said Bryan Tharpe, ACAP transition services manager.
"At Bldg. 5700, we are only able to facilitate 36 students at any given time, and we had to share the classroom with other organizations," he said. "We had to schedule our classes way out in advance and the competition for space can get pretty wild since it's so limited.
"Now we will have our own two classrooms here and a multipurpose room, and we're very excited about the move to the new location," he continued. "Also, with the additional new classes that we have coming online soon, we just wouldn't be able to facilitate everything at our old location."
The program has also expanded to include on-site Veteran's Affairs counselors and a financial counselor, so the move facilitates ACAP's in-house staff as well and gives the program room to grow, said Tharpe.
ACAP now has access to a 28-person classroom, a 25-person classroom and the multipurpose room in which the program will host its employer visits or use as additional class space.
"We host at least one employer visit a month, during which we bring up to six employers at a time for our Soldiers to meet and network with," said Tharpe. "Some of these Soldiers still have a lot of time before they are out of active duty, so networking with various employers helps -- that's a very important part of the job-search process."
The program offers five-day workshops, which are now mandatory under the Vow Act, that teaches Soldiers the transition overview, transition plan and how to write their resume.
ACAP does more than teach job-search skills to transitioning Soldiers. It also brings awareness to those Soldiers of the VA benefits they are entitled to, said Tharpe.
There are now two on-site VA counselors within the program who are there to answer any questions transitioning Soldiers might have about the process, said Dwayne Walters, VA benefits briefer.
"I can't do the claims for them, but I can help them navigate the system to the best of my ability, and answer any questions and assist with any issues they have about the VA," he said.
There are three tracks that transitioning Soldiers can choose from: the employment track, the higher-education track and the technical track, which should be available later this year and taught by the VA counselors.
The program also has a small business administration workshop called Boots to Business that teaches the ins and outs of starting a small business, said Tharpe.
"We had our first small business administration workshop in April and it went really well with about 16 Soldiers that went through the course," he said. "Our partners from the small business administration teach the course, which is a two-day seminar."
After the seminar, Soldiers have the option to continue on with an eight-day online piece that mentors them through the process of getting their business up and running.
Tharpe said the classes are also available to military spouses who have Soldiers transitioning, and they are more than welcome to attend the classes together as long as they register.
Classes will continue to be conducted in Bldg. 5700 throughout May.
For more information, call 255-2558.