WIESBADEN, Germany -- More than 40 transitioning service members from throughout Europe graduated last month from the Department of Veterans Affairs' first overseas Warrior Transition Advancement Course. Along with certificates came well-earned job offers with the VA.

Forty-four Soldiers, Airmen and Sailors attended classes, held at two garrisons in Germany, that provide skills needed to become Veterans Service Representatives or Rating Veterans Service Representatives. In addition to the skills training, WARTAC includes the opportunity to interview for open positions.

Overall, the WARTAC program aims to provide graduates who, after leaving the military, are ready to join one of the 56 Regional Veteran Service Centers throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

At U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz, 33 people graduated either the 10-week VSR course or 12-week RVSR course, with offers to start developmental GS-7 VSR and GS-9 RVSR positions as early as late-January.

"Working for the VA means you will be joining more than 10,000 of your fellow veterans who work for us…veterans serving veterans," said Jesse Rector, WARTAC-Europe program manager, during the Dec. 21 ceremony at USAG Rheinland-Pfalz. "

Rector noted that separating from the military is hard for some, and separating from an overseas location is even harder, which is why the VA is excited to bring WARTAC to Europe. "WARTAC is one way the VA can bring direct support to transitioning service members here," he said.

At USAG Bavaria, 11 people, including four from installations in Italy, earned their certificates Dec. 19, including Staff Sgt. Matt Handley of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment.

Handley said the most memorable day of class for him was when he generated an award for an actual veteran. "While we learned much from classes and demo cases that we worked on early in the course," he noted, "this was the moment that the job really connected for me. It drove home the importance of what we were doing."

Handley and his classmates now move on to become either VSRs, who build case files and collect evidence needed to make decisions on VA disability claims, or RVSRs, who make final decisions on these claims, determining what the service-connected disability percentage is for veterans.

The next round of WARTAC classes are scheduled at garrisons Bavaria and Rheinland-Pfalz from Feb. 28 to May 23 for RSVR and March 14 to May 23 for VSR. The application windows on USAJOBS is until Jan. 26 for RSVR and until Feb. 2 for VSR. Applicants must be active-duty service members transitioning from the military no later than 180 days from the start of class and must be available to begin employment no later than Aug. 22. To apply to WARTAC, individuals must submit a résumé via USAJOBS. Once VA notifies applicants of selection, they must then also submit a command approval memo for participation.

Selected members, from all branches of the service, stationed outside of Bavaria and Rheinland-Pfalz can attend WARTAC on permissive temporary duty status. To offset the out-of-pocket expenses for those attending the course on PTDY status, both training locations will offer on-post transient lodging. Applicants can contact WARTAC program managers for more lodging details after program acceptance.

"If VA is where you want to be, we have a place for you," said Rector. "The vast majority of WARTAC participants are hired; most of those who weren't hired chose to go elsewhere. We hope that you do not look at this as just (a chance for) a job -- but a career opportunity. And I hope, like me, you'll find that it becomes your new purpose in life."

For more information about the program, including the USAJOBS application process, contact these transition services managers in your area:

Benelux, Rheinland-Pfalz, Wiesbaden
Lew Lewis, DSN: 541-1401, Commercial: 0611-14-541-1401, floyd.lewis3.civ@mail.mil

Ansbach and Stuttgart
Joselyn Uribe-Huitron, DSN: 431-3673, Commercial: 07031-153673, joselyn.uribehuitron.civ@mail.mil

Bavaria
Anne Fugate, DSN: 476-2057, Commercial: 0966-283-2057, anne.m.fugate.civ@mail.mil

Italy
Wendy Roberts, DSN: 637-8151, Commercial: (39) 0444-68151, wendy.d.roberts2.civ@mail.mil