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JBSA Transition Summit helps service members, veterans find direction

| 502d Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Dec. 18, 2015

Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, TX —

“The business community is here because they want to take care of our transitioning members,” said Brig. Gen Bob LaBrutta, 502nd Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio commander, in his welcoming remarks to more than 200 participants at the JBSA Transition Summit held in the Fort Sam Houston Community Center Dec. 9.

“The U.S. Army has the major adjustment in bringing their end strength down,” LaBrutta said. “This means we are going to have a lot of Soldiers transitioning over the next few years. They will be coming back to this community and need training and good jobs. That’s what today is all about.”

“President Obama, the White House and Congress are all interested in making sure the same transition assistance programs be made available to all services, said Wayne Boswell, director of Business Operations, Transition to Veterans Program Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense Personnel and Readiness, during a panel discussion. “Now there is one transition assistance program curriculum available, so no matter where services members are, they will go through one program.”

“I’ve seen how transition assistance programs have been successful for my family, so that’s why I’m delighted to be a part of this summit,” said Col. Nicole Malachowski, the Dec. 9 keynote speaker and Joining Forces executive director, a White House program calling Americans to rally around service members, veterans and their families. “I watched how the program helped my husband take a look at what he wanted to do and wanted to be in his next life.”

TAP provides information, tools and training to ensure service members and their spouses are prepared for the next step in civilian life, whether it’s pursuing additional education, finding a job in the public or private sector or starting their own business.

“Service members make great entrepreneurs,” said Craig W. Heilman, U.S. Small Business Administration veteran’s programs director. “One in 10 small business owners are veterans.”

“It’s much easier to start a business than I realized and to start a franchise is just as feasible,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Amy Italiano, Navy Medicine Training Support Center training instructor.

“I wasn’t going to come to the summit, but my boss encouraged me to attend,’ said Sgt. Maj. Tom Chambers from U.S. Army South. “It’s been extremely helpful.”

Discussion panels also addressed post-traumatic stress disorder, funding programs for transitioning service members, military culture, networking, training and writing resumes.

“Volunteer work is also relevant, so don’t leave it out of your resume,” suggested Elizabeth O’Brien, Hiring Our Heroes director of military spouses programs during a workshop. “It’s all on how you phrase things.”

“Stop looking at just at what a company serves. You have to look beyond that,” said, U.S. Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Services coordinator Roxanne Griffith during a workshop. “Every business needs other positions in their industry, so think outside the box.”

“It is very encouraging to find I can work for the information technology industry, even though I don’t have the technology background,” said Col. Raul Benitez from U.S. Army South. “There are other things a corporation could use, such as our skills sets and experience.”

“In the Veterans Affairs resume writing and federal careers workshop, I learned to take the military jargon out of my resume,” Tony Hendricks said. “Complies don’t know military jargon. Over time, Service members think that everybody gets it, but that’s not the case.

The panels debated military culture in the civilian sector, job preparation, mental obstacles, mentorship programs, obtaining the right job for service members skill sets and networking on the second day of the summit.

“Networking and making that one-on-one contact with folks helps me to know there are things I can do, instead of stressing out on what my next step will be,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Darren Maring from the Headquarters Air Force Personnel Center at JBSA-Randolph.

The summit concluded with a hiring fair Dec. 10 with more than 90 employers represented and more than 450 participants.

“Some employers have given me advice on things I need to do in the pre-application process,” Maring said. “They gave me information on what their companies do and what skills sets I have that can be used in their company.”

“The military hired you to fight the nation’s wars, but has a vested interest in making sure you transition successfully,” said keynote speaker Brig. Gen. Daniel Mitchell, deputy commanding general for support at the U.S. Army Installation Management Command at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Dec. 10. “We are an all-volunteer force and if you are not satisfied how you were treated in the military, then our volunteer force will die. When you go out, you serve your community and you continue to be ambassadors for your service. That’s why the military wants you to transition successfully.”