Financial and employment training to be offered to transitioning Soldiers
By Ashley Roy, Atterbury-Muscatatuck Public Affairs
Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in Edinburgh, Ind., recently implemented the Veteran’s Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act, a national program designed to assist Soldiers transitioning from active duty with financial and career planning.
Signed into law in 2011, the program was implemented at Atterbury on November 21, 2012, in an effort to reduce unemployment and debt among veterans.
In a 2011 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 12.1 percent of veterans who served on active duty post 9/11 are unemployed. Among young male veterans, age 18 to 24, the unemployment rate rises to an astonishing 29.1 percent.
Debt is another problem. According to Debt.org, military personnel generally carry more debt than their civilian counterparts, and a quarter of military personnel with credit card debt owe an excess of $10,000.
With veteran unemployment rates being higher than the national average, President Obama made it a priority to get Soldiers programs to easily transition from military to civilian life.
The VOW program is mandatory for all reserve components after serving 180 days or more on active duty, and will take place during the mobilization and demobilization process.
“This program was created because we have seen in the news for the past five years, all these Soldiers that have been coming from the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war, and they don’t have a job,” said Lt. Col. Mary Shaw, deputy director for the directorate of human resources at Atterbury.
Soldiers can expect seven additional hours of class time during mobilization training, and two extra days during demobilization which allows them to attend a budgeting course, sign up for VA benefits and learn how to transition their military skills during the military occupational specialty crosswalk.
“This program will help Soldiers create a resume, and on that resume also provide a lot of information to transition military skills, such as infantry Soldier, into skills that can be used in the civilian marketplace,” said Shaw.
Soldiers that are unemployed or underemployed are mandated to attend a three-day Department of Labor workshop, given at the state level, as well.
“Our budget class has been pretty popular. It’s given Soldiers the tools to figure out ‘hey this is how I should be managing my money’, specifically for credit monitoring. We really encourage soldiers to do credit monitoring while they’re deployed, so they can see what’s happening to their money while they’re away,” said Shaw.
According to Shaw, these programs mirror the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) that has been in place for active army more than 20 years.
Soldiers from the Installation Support Unit at Atterbury, and Nebraska’s Agricultural Development Team 4 underwent the financial planning portion of the VOW program Feb. 1, 2012, taught by Kurt Ault, an ACAP financial counselor out of Fort Sheridan, Ill.
Ault instructed Soldiers on creating a monthly budget plan, reducing debt, managing credit scores and planning for finances long-term.
While some Soldiers may be discouraged by the added time to their demobilization process, Shaw encourages them to take advantage of resources the VOW program offers.
Soldiers can go online to see what opportunities are out there, determine their resume goals and bring that to the classes to receive help in achieving what they want as they transition back to civilian life.