FORT GORDON, Gerogia (July 25, 2014) - Veterans and active-duty military members preparing to transition from the military don't have to go far for assistance. Augusta Warrior Project celebrated the opening of its Transition Success Center with a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday at the Fort Gordon Education Center.
AWP is a local nonprofit organization that provides one-on-one advocacy for those in need of assistance with employment, education, benefits, housing, and everything in-between.
Known nationwide for its model of supporting military members, Col. Samuel G. Anderson said the Fort Gordon community is very fortunate to have AWP onboard.
"By hosting AWP here on the installation, we make it simpler for our transitioning service members to access these services," said Anderson, Fort Gordon garrison commander. "It's a win-win for all of us."
Kim Elle, director of AWP, expressed her gratitude toward Anderson, crediting him with an invested interest in taking care of military members as they transition out of the military.
"We wouldn't be here without the support of Col. Anderson," Elle said. "This is an amazing initiative, and we couldn't be more excited."
As the military transitions from being an Army at war to an Army of preparation during relative peace, Anderson said the size of the force is inevitably going to reduce -- making AWP's role that much more critical. Fort Gordon already strives to help ensure a smooth transition to civilian life for those leaving the service by way of organizations such as the Soldier For Life: Transition Assistance Program and Army Community Service. AWP staff is able to assist in topics where others may lack expertise, ensuring even greater success during the transition process.
"There is a safety net for those veterans who need additional assistance to ensure they can successfully enter the workforce and adjust to life outside the uniform," Anderson said. "That's the only way that we're going to ensure the success and the viability, long-term, of an all volunteer force."
Spc. Adam Pennington is one of many success stories deriving from AWP. A former Army medic, Pennington was previously assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit and is currently on transitional leave. He reached out to AWP a couple years ago when his life was falling apart after returning from Afghanistan. Pennington credits AWP with getting him to a place in life where he feels hopeful and wants to reach out to others fighting similar battles.
" Today, I'm truly thankful," Pennington said. "AWP is more than a team. They're family."
Anderson reiterated his enthusiasm for the center.
"You're going to see the passion that (AWP) brings to the table, and I think that passion is matched only by its expertise for serving the men and women in uniform," he said.
The AWP TSC is located in building 21606 on Barnes Ave.