WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio--Both the military and local communities can benefit from a program created by the Department of Defense that offers service members who are separating or retiring from the military the opportunity to transition successfully to civilian jobs.
“During the last 180 days of their career, military members are able to find an approved SkillBridge provider to get an internship, on-the-job training or apprenticeship with a company, corporation or local business with the hopes of employment once they separate or retire,” said Matthew Preissler, Education Center service specialist and SkillBridge program manager.
The program connects service members with real world job experiences that will aid them in finding employment after discharge and bridge the gap between the end of service and the beginning of their civilian careers.
“SkillBridge set me up for success post-military,” said Senior Airman Allen Marquis, Operations Medical Readiness Squadron physical therapy technician. “On day one of my terminal leave, I had a position waiting for me at the same place as my SkillBridge. It also gives me the opportunity to already be familiar with my job title.”
The program was established to address concerns about military personnel returning to civilian life following the 2008 financial crisis.
“SkillBridge started as a pilot program in 2011, and it has grown since then,” Preissler said. “There’s more than 2,890 approved SkillBridge providers throughout the United States, and the program is offered online, in resident or hybrid.”
Service members in the program continue receiving their salary, allowances and benefits while they are in training with authorized DoD SkillBridge partner organizations.
“I think it’s positive for the military member because they know they’re going to have employment at the end of their military career,” Preissler said. “When I retired, I didn’t have any type of employment, and I was on terminal leave for a while. It worked out for me that I got a job, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way for folks. Reducing that stress level helps out the member and their family.”
More than 50,000 service members DoD-wide have participated with external employers in the program, developing skills to help them secure post-military employment.
To participate in the program, military member must have served at least 180 days in the military, have no more than 180 days remaining of service and be honorably discharged.
The program is also available to select groups of the National Guard and Reserves. However, each service implements its own rules and guidelines regarding eligibility. All ranks of military personnel are eligible, but approval must be granted prior to participating.
“Service members interested in participating in the program must attend the Education Center SkillBridge briefing. That’s the first thing you have to do to become eligible,” Presissler said. “Then it’s a matter of submitting the application, which goes through your supervisor to the Education Center for review. If it’s good, then we send the application to the member squadron commander for final approval.”
For additional information about the program, see the SkillBridge website: https://skillbridge.osd.mil.