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ACAP makes transition to civilian life easier

FT. SILL, Okla._Service members at Ft. Sill getting ready to retire, or get out of the army, are working hard to prepare for their next career.

The Army Career and Alumni Program, known as ACAP, is giving those service members the training they need to enter the civilian work force. The ultimate goal of this program is to find jobs for all of these service members and they will get that chance at next month's hiring fair.

These soldiers are learning interview skills, resume writing, and how to apply their leadership skills to a potential career. Most of these service members have never had a job outside of the military so they have no idea what to expect when looking for and interviewing for a civilian job.

Staff Sergeant, Michael Becton has had a civilian job but that was before he spent the next 14 years in the Army so he knows things have changed since then. 

"The class has been very good transitioning from army language to civilian language, also networking. Since I've been in the military so long you kind of lose touch with the civilian sector," said Staff Sgt. Becton.

ACAP Director, Debra Watts said that's why this program is so important, "We're just trying to help them market themselves. The skills and leadership responsibilities they've learned in the army, just trying to help them translate that to be successful once they leave the army."

Watts said the class also helps with separation shock because changing jobs involves a lot of stress, "We do have to prepare them that they have to aggressively seek out the job, they're not going to be told what to do, so that's why we have to bring out the salesmanship in them so they can properly market themselves."

Specialist Kathleen Owen has been in the service for four years and she was very stressed until attending the class, "I didn't know what I was going to do. I was looking online for jobs even though I'm six months out, I worried but this class has really helped me settle down and be confident in what the future has in store for me."

Chaplain, Major James O'Neal is retiring from the service after 38 years and he knows he will go back to his civilian job as a Catholic priest, but others won't have such a smooth transition, "A lot of what I've heard today I've done already but I'll be in a better position to encourage other people who are in a similar situation moving from military life to civilian life."

The Soldier for Life hiring fair will be at Ft. Sill on March 27th and ACAP expects over 100 companies from all over the nation to be there helping these service members find their next career. On a survey posted on military.com, Lawton was listed as one of the top ten cities to find a job if you are making the transition from military to civilian life.

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