F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --
Transitioning out of the military, but have no idea what the future holds? Being nervous is okay. It can be a time of stress and uncertainty; however, the Air Force and Department of Defense offer a great resource that can help you succeed—the Department of Defense SkillBridge program.
Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Berg (Ret.) began using this program and it allowed him to serve his final six months on active duty interning at Hach, a water analysis equipment manufacturing company. He was hired by the company on his first day of retirement.
Under SkillBridge, eligible transitioning service members participate in job skills training. The program is governed by DoD Directive 1322.29 which states, "An eligible service member must complete at least 180 continuous days on active duty and is expected to be discharged or released from active duty, within 180 days of starting the Job Training, Employment Skills Training, Apprenticeships and Internships (JTEST-AI)."
Additionally, Airmen will be able to learn about the numerous companies participating in the program. DoD SkillBridge boasts over 500 different specialized internships offering experience in a plethora of skillsets, from Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) to computer technologies.
While the process may seem hard to get into, Berg shared that it was well worth the effort.
“When I initially looked into the program I couldn’t find very much information on it so I just brushed it off,” said Berg. “Then I decided to find the actual DOD regulation and read it for myself and found that it is actually really simple. SkillBridge is an excellent program that can help people like me, who are retiring or separating, get adjusted to the civilian workforce, build a stronger resume, and hopefully get hired on with the company they interned with.”
If interested in the program, the service member must self-initiate their participation and get approval from within their chain of command. For Berg, this approval came from Col. Greg Buckner, 90th Maintenance Group commander.
“As a leader, it is important to know my Airmen are prepared and taken care of, whether retiring after twenty years of service or separating and beginning a new path in life. These Airmen deserve the opportunities to make a successful transition,” said Buckner. “The DOD SkillBridge Program is not very well known. I appreciated Lt. Col. Berg’s initiative to use the program and advertise to others the real benefits the DOD offers to help Airmen transition to the civilian workforce while still on active duty. If the unit’s mission can support, I highly recommend the program.”
Transitioning out of the military into a civilian job can present many obstacles. An obstacle Berg had to overcome was adjusting to different terminology, as the military uses various jargon that is unfamiliar to the civilian world.
"My knowledge of the civilian workforce and different vernacular has grown exponentially over the last six months as a result of participating in this program," Berg said. "I already see the benefits of that, and I'm sure I will for a long time to come."
In order to get started, the first steps should be to speak with the education center about qualifications that need to be met by the Airman and the prospect company. Doing this early ensures the SkillBridge program is the right route for the Airman and company.
“The SkillBridge program prepares Airmen for civilian employment through first-class apprenticeships, on-the-job training, job shadowing, internships and employment skills training,” said Ruth Schulerbrooks, 90th Force Support Squadron employee development manager. “The value of being able to take time, while still on active duty, to learn a job and develop skills needed to work in the civilian workforce cannot be understated.”
Transitioning out of military service can be a tough road to take, but with help from the DoD SkillBridge program, the process can be made a little less stressful.
For more information about the DoD SkillBridge program, visit their website: https://dodskillbridge.com/.