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Col. Jim Clifford, Fort Gordon Garrison commander, and Stuart MacVean, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions CEO and president, sign a Memorandum of Understanding signifying the official start of a new program under the Career Skills Program for transitio... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The future looks promising for several Fort Gordon Servicemembers transitioning out of the military.

Fort Gordon and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) March 11, officially making the SRNS Occupational Safety and Health training program an option under Fort Gordon's Career Skills Program (CSP).

Stuart MacVean, SRNS CEO and president, said the MOU is significant because it signifies the company's first workforce development tool between the SRNS and Fort Gordon.

"It's a great opportunity to be able to set up programs that bring in members of the service that are thinking about transitioning to a different career … and continue service to our nation," MacVean said.

Transitioning Servicemembers who participate in the program will receive valuable job skills and training in occupational safety and health careers while still on active duty and getting paid by the Department of Defense.

To be eligible, they must have completed the required classes through Fort Gordon's Soldier For Life -- Transition Assistance Program and be within 180 days of separating or retiring from the military.

Participation in the program does not guarantee employment, but it can give Servicemembers an advantage over other candidates.

"We want to let them see if it's something they're going to be interested in from a career standpoint, and if it is, then we'll transition them and give them the training they need to be able to do it full-time," MacVean said.

Currently, SRNS recruits many of its professionals from Murray State University in Kentucky, where students graduate with degrees related to industrial health and safety. Thanks to the new partnership with Fort Gordon, MacVean said he looks forward to recruiting more local talent. An estimated 11 percent of the site's workforce are Veterans, and he expects to see that number grow.

"It's a great opportunity for us to get people who really know what it means to be working in an organization that's serving the country, and at the same time get that background experience that they have obtained during that timeframe so we can start them out in a program that really is going to offer them a new direction in their career," MacVean said.

After nearly 30 years in the Army, Sgt. Maj. William Armstrong, U.S. Army Signal School, is ready for a career change. Armstrong is one of 19 Servicemembers enrolled in the first rotation, which will last 90 days. Although prospects of a future career are uncertain at the moment, Armstrong is certain of at least one thing: programs such as this speak volumes about the way surrounding communities view its military neighbors.

"Fort Gordon is growing … and to be able to step out of this uniform and into the workforce, and with the community being so accepting, it's going to make transitioning for us Soldiers a lot easier," Armstrong said.

Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Jim Clifford described the program as an "incredible opportunity" and a "win-win" for all involved.

"It's a win for the military where we're able to reward great service of our (Servicemembers) … and it's a win for our corporate partners to be able to get highly trained folks that are motivated to move out," Clifford said.

Transitioning Servicemembers who want to learn more about the program should stop by the Career Skills Program office in the Fort Gordon Education Center, or call Patrice Bottom, CSP manager, at 706-791-7745.