The Army Continuing Education System recently hosted the Troops To Firefighters program,
a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that assist veterans, transitioning service members and Family members in becoming nationally certified firefighters and 911 emergency dispatch operators.

The presentation provided information on the Troops to Telecommunicators program geared towards those interested in an emergency communications career. Chief Winston L. Minor, president and chief operating officer of Troops to Firefighters, described public safety careers as "one of the best kept secrets and one of the best careers you can have," Minor said.

"We decided to put a nonprofit together to help troops coming out of the military understand
their opportunities in public safety."

When not in uniform, Staff Sgt. Laurie Battle has worked as a 911 emergency dispatch operator
for Columbia and Richland County for 10 years.

"I personally love the job," Battle said. "It's great because every day that you go home you know you've gotten something accomplished. You know that something you did effected how a citizen got response; that responding units had the information they needed to keep them safe and what to look for when they got there. It's really exciting and personally rewarding because I like people and I like helping people."

The two and a half week training and certification course for the 911 dispatch operators program is not given by Troops to Firefighters.

Troops to Firefighters serve as a liaison for those interested in the public safety career field, utilizing their partnerships to recruit, mentor and advocate for jobs on behalf of the program participants. It is through coordination and collaboration with organizations such as Priority Dispatch and the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch that interested individuals will receive training and certification to meet employment requirements. Upon successful completion of the entire 911 dispatch operators' program, participants receive certifications in Emergency Medical Dispatch, Emergency Fire Dispatch, Emergency Police Dispatch, Emergency Telecommunicator Course and International Academies of Emergency Dispatch EDQ, of which all are international certifications.

With more than 30 years of fire service experience, Chief Curtis Maffett, vice president of Training Troops to Firefighters, encouraged other to participate in public safety career opportunities,
"it was a rewarding job."

"I tell people that being a part of the fire or emergency response service, as a permanent
employee or volunteer, is a well-kept secret and offers a lot of benefits," Maffett said.

The program is offered at no cost to veterans, transitioning service members and Family
members. For additional information on the Troops to Firefighters and Troops to Telecommunicators
programs visit TroopstoFirefighters.org.

Troops to Firefighter provides training for Transitioning Soldiers while on active duty to become certified Firefighters and 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatcher Operators under the Fort Jackson Career Skills Program. The program is also open to qualifying military Spouses and adult Family members. All interested Soldiers must go through the Army Continuing Education System; be fully accepted in the program and obtain their battalion commander's approval.