JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (March 12, 2015) – More than 9,500 of the Service members stationed on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, or JBLM, are projected to transition from military service to seek civilian employment or further their education in 2016.
During a recent installation visit, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey met with senior leadership, educational advisers, transition program managers, and representatives from industry partners to receive an update on the success of JBLM’s transition program while addressing some of the challenges Service members face when they leave the military.
“The amount of energy, focus and effort that has gone on over the last few years to ensure that our Soldiers are just as prepared for leaving the service as they are for their missions – is something that I’m excited about,” Dailey said.
“We have always given a better product back to the civilian sector, but now we’re tailoring our training, not only to meet the needs of the requirements of a Soldier on the battlefield, but also to find maximum equivalent credentialing and academic equivalency [to help their transition],” he said.
Dailey received a brief on JBLM’s Service Member for Life Transition Summit, a transition event held here in October 2014. Part job readiness training and part hiring opportunity, the summit featured representatives from more than 200 businesses. Dan Verbeke, the installation Service Member for Life-Transition Assistance Program manager, said the event netted more than 260 on-site job offers.
“I think JBLM is on the forefront. They have worked so hard with their industry partners to find all these great opportunities [for transitioning Service members],” Dailey said. “I spent some time with the local union for pipe fitters and welders, and they’re taking these Service members, who are not welders in the Army, Air Force or Marines, and training them at no cost to the Service member or the government. Making them certified and guaranteeing them jobs before they leave the service – it’s amazing.”
The Washington State Military Transition Council, or WSMTC, was also highlighted during Dailey’s visit. The WSMTC, enacted in May 2013, is the first organization of its kind in the nation. It empowers state agencies to work with different levels of government, private and non-profit organizations, on the issue of veteran unemployment.
According to the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs, in December 2011, 18 percent of Service members transitioning from JBLM reported they had a job. In April 2014, that number rose to 42 percent.
Although highly encouraged by the progress and programs discussed during his visit, Dailey said there was still a lot of work to be done.
“My goal for the civilian world is that every major corporation and every small business in America should want to be a part of the Soldier For Life. To want to be able to have a sign that says, ‘I support Soldier For Life,'” he said.
“Because we really have to get the American public to recognize the value of the American Soldier,” Dailey said. “What they bring is not only a vast amount of knowledge and skills that directly correlate to technical skills in the civilian sector but a high level of maturity and discipline.”