Starting next month, the Army will begin testing a new customized transition program for separating personnel at six installations that will provide additional resources for service members that are more likely to have difficulty finding employment.
The two-year pilot program will gather input on best practices for the Army’s Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program, a mandatory program for all service members leaving active duty that covers resume writing, military skills translation, financial planning and other topics.
The six test sites — Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; and Army Garrison Bavaria, Germany — will divide soldiers into control and test groups, reported the Fayetteville Observer.
The control groups at each pilot site will receive the existing assistance program, which requires personnel to complete a set of 12 benchmarks related to career readiness skills training. The test group will be required to complete only the training modules assigned to each participant based on an algorithm developed from unemployment records. The algorithm predicts the relative difficulty troops will experience finding employment based on demographic data, education, military occupation and where they plan to live.
Depending on the results, soldiers may need to complete only three-quarters or half of the transition requirements, Walter Herd, director of the Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program, told the Observer. At four of the sites, battalion commanders would have the authority to adjust a soldier’s training requirements assigned by the algorithm.
“Our theory is that different types of soldiers need different types of assistance,” he said. “It makes sense. The point of this pilot is to prove it. Employment is the metric.”
Reducing the number of soldiers who take all of the training will free up counselors to work with personnel who need more help. The six test sites represent large Army installations, with Fort Bragg considered a leader in Army transition programs.
“If you transition off of active duty at Fort Bragg, you have a statistically better chance of finding employment than most Army installations,” Herd said.