2018-11-16 / Front Page

Program sets transitioning Soldiers up for success

Laura Levering
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Patrice Bottom, Fort Gordon Career Skills Program installation manager, discusses what’s next for Sgt. Al’maad Gardner. Gardner, a surgical technician with Eisenhower Army Medical Center, completed training with Airstreams Renewable Inc., and will begin his new civilian career as a tower technician soon. Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Patrice Bottom, Fort Gordon Career Skills Program installation manager, discusses what’s next for Sgt. Al’maad Gardner. Gardner, a surgical technician with Eisenhower Army Medical Center, completed training with Airstreams Renewable Inc., and will begin his new civilian career as a tower technician soon. Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Sgt. Al’maad Gardner was uncertain of what he wanted to do following his Army career. That changed shortly after he enrolled in the Army Career Skills Program (CSP). Gardner, a surgical technician with Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, will transition from the military into the civilian workforce as a tower technician later this month since completing seven weeks of training with Airstreams Renewable Inc., at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Gardner’s official separation date from active duty is Jan. 7, but his terminal leave will begin Tuesday, enabling him to begin his new career Nov. 25. All of this is possible thanks to the CSP.

Established by U.S. Army Installation Management Command as part of the Soldier-for-Life Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP), the CSP prepares transitioning Soldiers for civilian employment through apprenticeships, on-the-job training, job shadowing, internships, and employment skills training.

To be eligible for the program, Soldiers must have served a minimum 180 days on active duty, be within 180 days of separation from active duty, and have competed the mandatory five SFL-TAP workshops. Once SFL-TAP requirements are fulfilled, the Soldier will receive a DD eForm 2648, or Servicemember Pre-Separation eForm.

“Once you receive your e-Form, then you come to me, and then we can start your process for the CSP,” said Patrice Bottom, Fort Gordon CSP installation manager. “Once they bring me that form, we will then do the Memorandum of Participation (MOP); that is the form where either their battalion or brigade commander must sign.”

Commanders may grant permissive temporary duty (PTDY) for a Soldier to attend a CSP located more than 50 miles from the Soldier’s duty station. There are dozens of programs participating in the CSP at Army installations nationwide. Fort Gordon currently has the Veterans Education Training and Transitioning Program (VET2). The program includes four to six weeks of internship training, is run by Georgia Tech, and takes place in Savannah, Georgia. There are also several other courses at nearby Fort Benning and Fort Stewart, Georgia, Soldiers may want to consider.

One of the newer programs, the Georgia Veterans Education Career Transition Resource (VECTR) Center, takes place in Warner Robins, Georgia. VECTR offers accelerated training opportunities in high demand career fields through Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC). Career programs currently offered through VECTR include Cisco Certified Networking Associate, Routing and Switching, Welding and Joining, Commercial Truck Driving, and Air Frame and Power. Soldiers will need to apply to CGTC for a HOPE Grant in order to participate in this program.

All programs in the CSP are zero to minimum cost to the Soldier. The best way to determine if there is a cost is for the Soldier to directly contact the program they are interested in.

“The Army is not advocating for extreme costly programs knowing that these Soldiers are transitioning ... so if there is a cost, it is going to be minimum,” said Dr. Reginald Roberson, guidance counselor, Fort Gordon Army Continuing Education Services.

Bottom encourages Soldiers to gather as much information about the program(s) they are interested in before seeing her at the Education Center. This will help ensure a smooth process.

“It’s the Soldier’s responsibility to do the research on the program,” Bottom said. “I like to tell them that they need to find out the dates, food, travel distance, lodging – you need to find all of that preferably before you come to me.”

Permission to participate is ultimately up to the Soldier’s commander, although Soldiers should be in good standing with their unit and not have any disciplinary actions against them.

“We are pushing for the commanders to encourage their Soldiers to participate in the program, because it really is a good program ... but if the commander says ‘no,’ there is nothing we can do,” Bottom said.

Reflecting on the training he received through the CSP, Gardner said he would not change a thing. He described the program as “a great option” for him and is eager to tell other Soldiers about it.

“It’s an amazing way to start, especially if you’re kind of nervous about what you’re going to do after the military and how you want to get on your feet,” Gardner said. “Going through that program made me feel a lot more confident about exiting out of the military, and there’s not a malingering fear in the back of my mind of what might happen. I just feel very secure now.”

For more information about the program, contact Bottom at (706)791-2000. You can also visit https://home.army.mil/imcom and select Career Skills Program from the Menu.

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