By Rhonda Apple, Pentagram Staff WriterMay 30, 2014
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. -There's an expression in the Army "You can take the Soldier out of the Army, but you can't take the Army out of the Soldier." Whether a Soldier completes his or her service obligation for a few years or makes the Army a career, they are a Soldier for life.
The Army Soldier for Life program launched a new website May 1, designed to be a valuable resource for veteran Soldiers and retirees. It improves Solider, veteran and family access to employment, education and health care.
Until now, retirees used Army Knowledge Online (AKO) as their primary web tool to receive and manage Army-related information. The Soldier for Life site will replace AKO as the primary communication tool between the Army and retirees.
The program has grown rapidly over the past two years and includes a plethora of information Soldiers can access such as health, communications, employment, education and a liaison with the Surgeon General's office, said Master Sgt. Bryon Mulligan with the Office of the Chief of Staff, Army Soldier for Life program.
"Soldiers leave military service career-ready, and with the help of the program, created and administered by the Chief of Staff of the Army's office, Soldiers are able to find an established network connecting them with employment, education and health care and successfully reintegrate into civilian life," Mulligan said.
"A lot of corporations were contacting us, asking how they get in touch with veterans interested in coming to work for their companies," he added.
Lt. Col. Wenceslao G. Angulo, who serves as the communications and outreach director of the program, said the program's focus is to serve those in all four phases of being a Soldier: start strong, serve strong, reintegrate strong and remain strong.
"Soldier for Life, is about the entire Soldier's lifecycle. As soon as that Soldier shows up at basic training, they start strong, to the day they check into their first command and begin their career in the service, they serve strong," he said. "This continues to their decision to switch from wearing a uniform as a Soldier to civilian clothes and reintegrate strong, as a productive member of society and remain strong, as a veteran mentor and community leader."
Mulligan explained the chief of staff didn't want Soldiers forgotten after serving their country, like "they were after Vietnam." In planning Soldier for Life, the Army looked at the Marine Corps' Marine for Life program and the advantages it offers Marines.
He said service members working with Soldier for Life travel to corporations around the country, educating employers on the advantages of hiring Soldiers and how veterans' skills and experiences can be of value to potential employers.
"We go out and talk to community leaders [and corporations] about Army personnel and educate them on what [qualities] a Soldier can bring to the civilian work force," Mulligan said.
The program has grown into a regional operation and is managed similarly to the Veterans Administration, with four regions - north, south, east and west.
For additional information, contact Mulligan at 703-545-2648 or visit www.soldierforlife.army.mil/.