FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Businesses like Microsoft are looking for people who can communicate effectively with others to efficiently accomplish a mission.

Microsoft calls them "soft skills" and they recognize career Soldiers develop these effective and efficient communication skills throughout their careers.

Under the umbrella of DoD's Career Skills Program, the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy has partnered with Emery Riddle University and St. Martin's University in Lacy, Washington, to offer a 14-week "software bootcamp" for Soldiers transitioning from the military to civilian careers.

Staff Sgt. Jaspar Blue, a former medic at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, was the first Soldier to apply for, and complete Microsoft's new training program for retiring Soldiers.

Blue was also the first to receive permissive temporary duty to attend the MSSA prior to retirement. New policies were written based on Blue's MSSA application to make it easier for others to apply.

Blue attended a job fair at Fort Leonard Wood about a year before he retired. His plan was to continue with college and become a physician. But running into a Microsoft MSSA program coordinator at the event changed the course of his life.

In less than a year, Blue applied for the program, completed training and accepted a job with Microsoft.

"It was intense," Blue said. "Six months of upper-level computer science coursework condensed into three months."

Blue credited several of his Army leaders and team members for the speedy and successful assembly and completion of the application packet for the MSSA.

"It was an opportunity I didn't even see coming," Blue said. "And as it opened up, it was like the doors just blew open every time I came up to an obstacle."

(Editor's note: John Brooks is the marketing specialist at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital)