FORT KNOX, Ky. -- Each year, over 100,000 transitioning Soldiers leave Army active duty service and look for opportunities in the civilian sector. In fiscal year 2016, Army transition participant surveys showed that 56% of transitioning Soldiers planned to seek employment opportunities in the civilian sector.
From March 28 - 30, 2017, the Army hosted a training symposium at The Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. The symposium trained Soldier for Life -- Transition Assistance Program Center staff and stakeholders on various topics related to the program, focusing on the theme of "Transition to Connection."
The U.S. Army's transition program supports Soldiers and their family members through mandatory career training prior to leaving active duty. The program is taught at over 70 locations worldwide and supported by the Installation Management Command.
"SFL-TAP and the Army believe in helping find our Soldiers jobs. The SFL-TAP Transition Symposium was the first step in bringing stakeholders and SFL-TAP Center leaders together to learn how to better connect Soldiers to civilian careers," said retired Col. Walter Herd, Director of SFL-TAP.
The symposium focused on best practices for connecting transitioning Soldiers to jobs in the civilian sector, networking with Veteran-friendly companies interested in hiring transitioning Soldiers, and how to encourage transitioning Soldiers to become experienced in civilian skills through Army programs and other resources.
Guest speakers attended the symposium, including representatives from Amazon, LinkedIn, Monster.com/Military.com, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Border Patrol, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USAJOBS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, Department of Labor, Where Opportunity Knox, WDRB Louisville, Soldier for Life, Hiring Our Heroes, Small Business Administration, United Parcel Service, and others.
On Wednesday morning, attendees listened to the Sgt. Maj. of the Army, Daniel A. Dailey, speak on transition, bettering the Army's perception in society, and hiring transitioning Soldiers.
"I don't want people hiring anybody because of goodwill," said Dailey. "I want them hiring our Soldiers because they're truly qualified and have tremendous skill and capability. And they have these skills that, in some regards, you can't achieve in the civilian sector."
On Thursday, the Kentucky Lt. Gov., Jenean Hampton, spoke about her experience as a transitioning service member and how different the transition process is today.
"There was no organization even close to this one [SFL-TAP]. They gave us what they thought was training and preparing us to leave, but it was kind of a hurried affair," Hampton said.
Hampton is a seven-year Air Force veteran, who served during Desert Storm. Hampton was a part of the Air Force during the drawdown after Desert Storm and was paid to leave military service.
"Based on the experience that I had when I was exiting the military…the Army is way ahead of the curve," she said.
The symposium is a bi-annual event that fosters a platform for training, networking, and dialogue about Army transition and the future of the SFL-TAP initiative. The Army promotes the concept tagline "Once a Soldier. Always a Soldier. Soldier for Life."
For more information on SFL-TAP, visit www.sfl-tap.army.mil, or Facebook (Soldier for Life -- Transition Assistance Program), Twitter (@SFLTAP), and LinkedIn (Soldier for Life -- Transition Assistance Program Connection Group).