By Heather Clark, Courier staffApril 14, 2014
Not every Soldier is the same -- so it is safe to assume that not every Soldier will have an airtight plan in mind when it comes to the transition from Army life to one in the civilian world. Even as a military career dwindles down to the final months, a Soldier might still be sorting through decisions about continuing education, post-military careers and entrepreneurship.
Because there is an increased awareness of the challenges faced by transitioning Soldiers, the Army has been fortifying all methods of making the journey as easy and secure as possible. The concept has been dubbed the "Soldier for Life" program and, according to www.army.mil/soldierforlife, "supports successful reintegration of our Soldiers, Veterans and their Families in order to keep them Army strong and instill their values, ethos and leadership within the communities."
"This is not a new concept for us," explained Colonel David "Buck" Dellinger, Fort Campbell garrison commander. "Several years ago, [Maj. Gen. James C.] McConville introduced the idea of a smooth takeoff -- making sure our Soldiers get everything they need for a smooth transition to civilian life. That idea, combined with Gen. John F. Campbell's 'Soldier for Life' concept, has been our blueprint. We've worked so hard at it that it's become the standard here."
Organizations such as the Army Career and Alumni Program, Army Community Service and the Employee Readiness Program work together to place transitioning Soldiers on the path to post-military success. At Fort Campbell, these organizations partner to host job fairs which attract employers on an international and local scale. The latest was hosted Wednesday at Cole Park Commons, and generated a fairly large buzz through the community.
"This is our largest job fair to date," said Harold Riggins, ACAP Transition Services manager. "We have 67 national and international companies and 71 local companies registered. That's 138 organizations that are here to take care of our Veterans. We've turned 20 companies away because we don't have facilities. This is a big thing."
To ensure that the prospective employees of Fort Campbell would be able to take full advantage of such a large event, ACAP, ACS and ERP released a special insert in last week's Courier to give important tips on how to put one's best foot forward when meeting with company representatives.
"You are being rated and analyzed by all the prospective employers at the Job Fair, and it's to your advantage that you study and prepare to increase your job fair etiquette approval rating," said ACAP representative John Wesley-DeSpain Jr. in his insert article "Wow recruiters with professional etiquette."
Also included in the insert were tips on dressing for success, building an eye-catching resume and being mindful of the power of first impressions. By offering these preparation tools, the hope is that employers across the Nation will see the bounty of potential that can be found within the transitioning Soldiers of the installation.
By providing one-stop transition services such as those available at the new Milton A. Lee "Soldier for Life" Center, and continually opening doors with job and education fairs, Dellinger hopes that Fort Campbell's Soldiers know that the installation is working hard to facilitate them for the next phase.
"We owe it to our Soldiers and their Families to give them the proper care and preparation for this next chapter in life," he said.