By T. Anthony BellNovember 3, 2016
FORT LEE, Va. -- One noncommissioned officer spent her tour performing administrative duties, teaching and producing high-end pastries. Another learned the finer skills of her craft at one of the top schools of its kind in the world.
Staff Sgt. Lagena Boggs and Staff Sgt. Florine Faendrich, both food service specialists, were afforded rare opportunities of an Army career when they applied for and were accepted into the Army's Training with Industry program.
"It opened doors that I didn't think existed," said Boggs, a 12-year Soldier assigned to the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence. "I spent my entire career in [Army Forces Command] and deployed three times. I thought that was all there was -- working in a dining facility or deployment."
Training with Industry is an Army-wide skills development program that provides qualified Soldiers with work experiences unique to private industry. Selectees spend one year at an assignment with an industry partner and two years follow-on in a utilization slot such as an instructor position.
In the food service career field, Training with Industry assignments include the American Culinary Federation in St. Augustine, Florida, Sullivan University in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio.
Boggs completed her assignment two years ago at Sullivan, a private school with a well-known culinary arts program. Faendrich concluded a stint with the renowned Culinary Institute of America earlier this year. Both are currently Advanced Culinary Skills Training Course instructors, but Boggs is scheduled to relocate to Fort Drum, New York, in the near future.
Eligibility criteria for Training with Industry include active duty status; a time-in-service requirement of two to 22 years; completion of NCO education courses commensurate with grade; secret clearance; and meeting the Army weight and height standards.
Faendrich, a 14-year Soldier who completed a two-year culinary program at Johnson and Wales University prior to joining the Army, said Training with Industry fulfilled her aspiration to return to the classroom.
"It was really cool to go back to school and get the hands-on training," she said.
At the Culinary Institute of America, Faendrich completed several courses, including courses on meat and seafood fabrication and garde manger (a French term for cold food preparation). The 34-year-old then became a manager in training, a position similar to a teacher's assistant.
"I was able to share my knowledge," she said. "That was really awesome."
Boggs' time at Sullivan was equally fulfilling. She too began with culinary classes, then moved up to teacher's assistant, mostly supporting the program of instruction with demonstrations. Boggs later taught a basic baking class, worked as an intern in the school bakery, and taught as a substitute.
"I also advised their pastry team, and we competed quarterly with the local ACF," she said. "Through all of that, my responsibilities were all over the place, but it gave me the experience I needed to come back here to teach and compete as well."
Boggs has since been selected for the U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team, earned culinary certifications from the ACF and met many of the food service leadership "I probably would not have met" if she had not applied for the program. "It's opened so many doors," she said.
Faendrich expressed similar sentiments.
"I'm glad the Army has this for Soldiers who want to go out there and train with industry," she said. "It opens up doors, exposing them to amazing opportunities."
The door is open to Soldiers in several quartermaster military occupational specialties, too. Sgt. 1st Class Cheryl Cameron is a supply specialist assigned to Papa Company, 244th Quartermaster Battalion. Fresh from a Training with Industry tour of duty at Sullivan, where she learned about supply chain management.
"I got a broader view of what my job is all about," she said. "It helped develop my skills not only from the military side but the civilian side as well."
For Training with Industry alumni, the onus is on them to pass on their knowledge and skills, which is the primary purpose of the program.
To apply, Soldiers must meet the basic criteria and then complete a Department of the Army Form 4187.
Instructions for the application can be found at https://www.hrc.army.mil/EPMD/TWIApplicationProcessingInstructions.
A letter of recommendation signed by the first general officer in the chain of command must accompany the application as well as a current record brief; a current DA Form 705 (Army Physical Fitness Test Score Card); and DA Form 550 (Body Fat Content).
The application and supporting documents must be sent in PDF format by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The subject of the email should read "Request to compete for TWI."
For more information, visit http://www.quartermaster.army.mil/oqmg/enlisted_proponency/twi_main.html.
The next deadline for submissions is Jan. 8, 2017.