The Home Builder Institute Transitioning Military Program hosted a graduation ceremony at the Education Center Fort Stewart, Georgia, on December 13. The ceremony was held to certify 16 Soldiers transitioning out of the Army with certificates to work in the construction industry.

HBI started in 2012 to prepare transitioning Soldiers to attend training and receive job skills that will qualify Soldiers to fill positions available in the construction industry. It is a 12-week training apprenticeship that partners with Home Depot and other local businesses. Upon completion, students are provided a toolbag, a toolbelt and the essential tools to get started.

"Most of them will have a job prior to leaving the Army," said Richard Williams, the regional skills program coordinator at the Education Center. "Others seek to become their own boss of a welding company, construction company or electrical company."

Soldiers on active duty must be within 180 days of separation as of the class start date and must have approval from their unit commander to attend the course. The program is also open to honorably discharged veterans and military Family members.

Sgt. 1st Class Edward Barnett, an armored crewman, recently graduated from the course. He will retire in the Liberty County area and aspires to work in residential maintenance and construction.

"These are invaluable skills that you learn that can apply to your personal life at home or work if you continue to work in construction," said Barnett. "This course steers you in the right direction. Whether you are a private or a major, you will be prepared for the work force outside the military."

HBI training has been expanded to 12 installations along the east coast with classes running every month. Fort Stewart Career Center's recent cohort brings the location's graduate total to 357 in 2019.

"This program does not set Soldiers up for a job, it sets them up for a career," said Williams. "We make sure that our Soldiers feel empowered and can easily transition into the civilian population."