Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Tuesday rolled out the Pentagon’s newest revision to its effort to prepare service members for life after the military.
The military life cycle model, a new component of the DOD Transition Assistance Program, will help service members start preparing for transition early in their military careers. Personnel will have key “touch points” throughout their military careers that will allow them to align their military experience with their civilian goals, reported DOD News. The program will be implemented forcewide shortly.
Officials are working with other government, state and local agencies and the private sector to ensure its success, Carter told an audience at Syracuse University.
“I think we can improve our game further, and the way we’ll know how to improve is to build our programs on the back of careful research of the kind that … this institution — and this institution almost alone in our country — is actually doing,” Carter said in reference to the university’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), the first interdisciplinary institute in higher education focused on issues affecting veterans and their families.
He credited IVMF with helping the Pentagon realize it needs to get personnel engaged in thinking about their post-military lives early in their careers.
“If we’re going to have a new generation we … can’t offer them a conveyor belt that you get on and you don’t move until you get off,” Carter said. “We’re not going to be appealing if we do that, so we’re going to need to change the way we think about things.”
Last month, the Pentagon, IVMF and the Schultz Family Foundation announced the launch of Onward to Opportunity, an initiative to deliver tailored training and certifications to service members and spouses before they transition to civilian life.
Onward to Opportunity is designed to give participants the skill sets they need to qualify for jobs with leading U.S. companies, offering a seamless transition from military careers to civilian employment, according to the story.
“Uppermost in my mind is ensuring that we have in generations to come what today gives us the finest fighting force the world has ever known. And that’s not our technology — that comes second. It’s our people,” he said.
To attract the best candidates, “we need to explain, we need to reach out, we need to recruit,” the secretary said.