By Sgt. Vincent Fusco, Directorate of Public Affairs & CommunicationsJuly 16, 2010
WEST POINT, N.Y. (July 16, 2010) -- The Army Career and Alumni Program was created to help Soldiers make crucial career decisions near the end of their commitments to the Army. Its primary goal is to assist Soldiers in transitioning out of the active service as well as locate jobs for them in the civilian sector.
Although ACAP is an essential Army program, it has one major flaw, according to Lt. Col. Isaiah Wilson III, the Director of American Politics in the Department of Social Sciences. Since its initiation by congressional mandate in 1991, its procedures have never been reviewed for efficiency in the 21st century.
Wilson said this is an important oversight because the Army was a much different organization 19 years ago. The Army no longer needed a filled-to-capacity fighting force after the Cold War ended and it focused on taking care of departing Soldiers by finding jobs for them in a prosperous economy.
But today, with an economy still in recession and the United States fighting two foreign wars, the Army needs its Soldiers in the ranks now more than ever. Earlier this year, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, recommended that a "well-reasoned, holistic assessment" of ACAP should be done, and Wilson was nominated to lead that assessment.
Wilson's ACAP review study group consisted mostly of West Point faculty from the departments of Social Sciences, Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Law and Systems Engineering as well as the Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis and the Army Center for Enhanced Performance.
"Just about every aspect of West Point is involved in the project," Wilson said. "I'm excited about West Point being the core of (improving) how Soldiers, spouses and the Family are not only transitioned out of the active force, but assessed in and developed throughout their time in service."
Additionally, the group is receiving augmentation and assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor and Veterans Affairs.
Most Soldiers see ACAP as a way of transitioning from the Army into the civilian workforce. One of Wilson's goals with this review is to promote the lateral career opportunities the program provides, such as military occupational skill or career field redesignations as well as transfers into the Army Reserve or National Guard.
The program also provides a link via the Department of Labor to about 100-150 corporate partners, many of which hold an affinity for hiring veterans. Wilson hopes the review will improve this relationship by eliminating the "loss in translation" that human resource managers often experience in hiring veterans based upon limited knowledge of Soldier skills.
"They'll usually give generalities like, 'they have management experience' or 'they're mature, they're able to handle stress,'" Wilson said. "But they're not able to go into any specifics in terms of the work a Soldier specifically does and how it directly translates to the wants, needs and desires of their corporation."
Wilson and the team are reviewing the program and surveying Soldiers, first line supervisors and commanders as well as ACAP managers within and outside the continental United States. These surveys will be used to update the program with relevant and effective content that meets the wants and needs of today's Soldiers and Family members.
"Currently, ACAP is 'one size fits all,'" Wilson said. "We're already getting feedback that this should be a tailored program."
Another idea that follows this tailored approach is to create an online portal in which Soldiers and Family members can log onto and access a full spectrum of transition services, such as job searches, skill building, training and resumAfA writing.
This portal could also serve as a link to the civilian and corporate sector and use new talent management methods that match people with certain skills with the right career in a specific geographic location.
After visiting about 50 installations, Wilson and the team will compile their surveys and statistical analysis results into an assessment report that will be presented to the Vice Chief around Oct. 1.