USA — Toolkit Helps Separating Servicemembers Land Jobs

WASHINGTON — Sol­diers, sailors, air­men and Marines sep­a­rat­ing from the mil­i­tary can get extra help in find­ing a job from a new Defense Depart­ment resource.

The Pentagon’s Wound­ed War­rior Care and Tran­si­tion Pol­i­cy Office, part of the Office of Per­son­nel and Readi­ness, recent­ly devel­oped the Career Deci­sion Toolk­it to help the 400,000-plus ser­vice­mem­bers who sep­a­rate from the mil­i­tary each year have a smoother tran­si­tion into civil­ian work, John R. Camp­bell, deputy under­sec­re­tary for wound­ed war­rior care and tran­si­tion pol­i­cy, said in an inter­view with Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice today.

Camp­bell, a Viet­nam War-era Marine who joined the depart­ment ear­li­er this sum­mer after work­ing for decades in pri­vate indus­try, said too many civil­ian man­agers and hir­ing offi­cials today don’t have enough famil­iar­i­ty with the mil­i­tary to know the skills devel­oped from a few years of ser­vice.

“Most employ­ers today have nev­er served, and that was­n’t true when I got out” in 1970 and entered the bank­ing indus­try, he said.

That, cou­pled with the bad econ­o­my – unem­ploy­ment for peo­ple younger than 30 hov­ers around 15 per­cent nation­al­ly – makes get­ting hired an uphill bat­tle, espe­cial­ly for for­mer ser­vice­mem­bers who may nev­er have com­pet­ed in the pri­vate sec­tor mar­ket, Camp­bell said.

Ser­vice­mem­bers apply­ing for civil­ian jobs need to be able to explain how their mil­i­tary expe­ri­ence trans­lates into the skills need­ed for jobs they are apply­ing for. Many strug­gle with that, he said.

“One of the things I know, because I work with younger ser­vice­mem­bers, is that they don’t real­ize how valu­able they are,” Camp­bell said.

Ser­vice­mem­bers, even as young enlist­ed mem­bers, serve in strate­gi­cal­ly impor­tant places and have oppor­tu­ni­ties and expe­ri­ences beyond most of their civil­ian peers, Camp­bell said. “They’re warfight­ers, but they also work on civil­ian projects,” he not­ed. “They’re com­mu­ni­ty activists; they meet with imams.”

The toolk­it helps sep­a­rat­ing ser­vice­mem­bers “write the nar­ra­tive” of their expe­ri­ences, Camp­bell said. It includes a CD and sup­port­ive doc­u­ments, its porta­bil­i­ty allows it to be used any­where the ser­vice­mem­ber is locat­ed, he said.

Designed by Defense Depart­ment offi­cials in col­lab­o­ra­tion with offi­cials from the Labor and the Vet­er­ans Affairs depart­ments, the toolk­it is avail­able in the mil­i­tary tran­si­tion course for sep­a­ra­tion, at Tran­si­tion Assis­tance Pro­gram cen­ters, and at sol­dier-and-fam­i­ly and fleet-and-fam­i­ly sup­port offices.

The toolk­it includes infor­ma­tion on job inter­views, resumes and cov­er let­ters, and nego­ti­at­ing pay and ben­e­fits, among oth­er things, Camp­bell said. It also has spe­cial sec­tions for wound­ed war­riors.

“We have used what we think are the best tools for civil­ians, as well as mil­i­tary — the best prac­tices out there,” he said. “And it’s still evolv­ing.” More resources are expect­ed to become avail­able in the fall, Camp­bell said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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