FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) -- Each year, several thousand soldiers mark the end of their military service at Fort Riley and begin the next chapter of their lives. Some are retirees but the majority of them are young soldiers who are looking to start a different career.
The Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) helps soldiers in their transition out of the military, connecting them with local and national employers.
"We’ve added more things to our program. We have revamped our workshops that teach soldiers how to do resumes and how to prepare for interviews and how to job search and how to identify their skills that employers are looking for," said Glennwood McLaurin,
Transition Service Manager for the Army Career and Alumni Program at Fort Riley. "In the past, there was kind of like a one shoe fits all program. Within the last year or so, we have revamped the ACAP program, the Department of the Army has revamped the ACAP program to better assist our soldiers in their transition out of the military."
An educational track has been added for soldiers interested in going to school as well as a technical track for soldiers looking to work in a particular technical field.
McLaurin says Fort Riley processes anywhere between 200-300 soldiers a month separating from Fort Riley and a little more than 4,000 a year. Less than 10% of the soldiers exiting the military are retiring. It is estimated that around 400 of these soldiers and their families plan on remaining in the Central Flint Hills Region.
He says soldiers exiting the Army come from diverse career and technical specializations. They possess a variety of "soft" and "hard" skill sets. Some of the "hard" skills sets include skills associated with law enforcement/security, human resources/management, maintenance/logistics, medical, heavy equipment operation and communications. "Soft" skills include leadership, team work, depend-ability, interpersonal skills and strong work ethic.
"The employers are really stepping up and trying to help these soldiers find jobs," McLaurin told WIBW. "They like them because of what they bring to the table. They have a lot of skills that they are looking for- their leadership skills, their management skills. A lot of soldiers have security clearances that saves the company a lot of money They don’t have to pay for it. They get a soldier clearance if he or she needs it."
Steve Milton recently started a business in Manhattan called Act4Safety, a driving service designed to keep drunk drivers off the road. Milton says he is committed to hiring fellow veterans.
"They come out with leadership skills that can’t be taught in a classroom. They come out with discipline that can’t be taught in a classroom. They come out with a set of core values that the Army or any military service instills that you cannot teach in a classroom- those intangible skills sets, that work ethic that comes with the discipline and the structured environment they come from make them invaluable assets to any organization when they come out of the military," he said.
As more and more veterans tackle life as a civilian with the Army’s downsizing, officials hope companies will continue hiring heroes
Each month, ACAP officials send out information to hundreds of local employers to give them an idea of how many soldiers are leaving Fort Riley and the types of skills they bring to the table so that the companies have the opportunity to recruit them.
Officials say a high percentage of retirees decide to stay in the Central Flint Hills region, citing low cost of living and the desire to raise their children in this area as the main reasons for staying.
Fort Riley is hosting a Fall Job Fair on October 22, 2013 at Riley's Conference Center on post from 12 PM- 4 PM.
The free event is offered in support of Fort Riley family members, wounded soldiers in transition, soldiers preparing to separate from the military and civilians.
Job opportunities will be available locally, regionally and nationally.