Commentary

March 22, 2013

Army Career and Alumni program continues to serve transitioning Soldiers

Mitchell Lee
ACAP coordinator, U.S. Army Installation Management Command

If you aren’t a Soldier leaving the military or a veteran seeking a career change, please find one and tell him or her my story. The Army Career and Alumni Program works, and I am proof.

ACAP opened the door to my second career. I retired from the U.S. Army after 22 years in September 2005 and went to work as a Department of the Army civilian the next month. I started with the program a year earlier, which allowed me plenty of time to hone my resume to perfection. Without the support of ACAP during the resume process, I would have been lost.

ACAP also taught me the ins and outs of the Army’s Civilian Personnel Online website — CPOL. I learned to use the job descriptions on the Army’s FASCLASS service, which helped me develop my resume. The Veterans’ Affairs and Department of Labor briefing guided me as I retired and started drawing VA benefits. I got the information I needed to complete my bachelor’s degree using the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program. You have to engage in order to receive something out of it.

Without the Army Career Alumni Program, I would not have had the opportunity to start a second career after the military.

ACAP has been around for over 20 years in different forms. Today, we need it more than ever. Unemployment compensation for veterans reached its highest peak in fiscal year 2012 — around $515 million.

In the face of rising veteran unemployment, Congress passed and the president signed the Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes, or VOW Act. Part of the act requires the Defense Department to prepare all service members departing the military after Nov. 28, 2012 for a non-stressful entry into the job market.

Through ACAP, the Army was already prepared to meet the VOW Act requirement. The U.S. Army Installation Management Command operates ACAP centers on 64 garrisons around the world in support of this Army-wide program.

ACAP designed a five-day track of comprehensive training to prepare the service member and Family for transition. The program takes a strategic approach to comprehensive resume preparation, and job preparation training, interview techniques and other steps toward successful civilian life. ACAP also organizes hiring events and has taken the lead in getting Soldiers hired into the private sector. The goal is for every departing Soldier to have a job.

However, ACAP is more than mandatory VOW Act training. Retiring Soldiers can use ACAP training and placement services up to two years before retirement. Non-retiring Soldiers can start one year before separation. Reserve component Soldiers on active duty for 180 day or more can take part. Non-retiring veterans and non-Army retirees can use ACAP for up to 180 days after separation. Army retirees can use ACAP on a space available basis for the rest of their lives.

My story is proof ACAP has been there for Soldiers. Today’s ACAP does an even better job. Isn’t that worth passing along?

For more information, contact the Fort Huachuca ACAP Center transition manager, 533.7314.




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