• Veterans tell of success in Career Skills Program

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    The next Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program’s Career Skills Program Day is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today in the Adjutant General training room, 861 McClellan Ave.
    The event is open to active-duty service members within 180 days of transitioning from active service, who anticipate honorable discharge, have no legal or flag actions ongoing or pending, and who completed mandatory TAPS requirements prior to the class start date.
    During the event, Heroes Make America will present from 11-11:30 a.m., Kansas City Kansas Community College will present from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., the Federal Emergency Management Agency will present from 12:30-1 p.m., and the SFL-TAP Advanced Resumé Writing Class from 1:15-2 p.m.
    During each presentation, transitioned service members who have already completed the program will talk about their own experiences and success.
    One such service member is Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Fernandez who trained with the Heroes Make America Manufacturing Program.
    Fernandez left active duty on June 30 after 22 years of service. His last position was with the 40th Military Police Battalion (Detention) as the operations noncommissioned officer.
    He trained with the HMA Manufacturing Program for 10 weeks at Fort Riley, Kan., and received the skills to become a certified production technician.
    “It was a great experience,” Fernandez said. “Initially, I was skeptical about learning a new skill, especially after serving 22 years in the Army. HMA gave transitioning soldiers much like myself the knowledge and expectations to prepare for the manufacturing industry.”
    During the training, Fernandez said HMA took participants on tours of 20 different manufacturing plants, and through those contacts, he was offered a position with Georgia-Pacific Manufacturing.
    “The company reached out and offered me a position that they thought I would be successful in,” Fernandez said. “I informed them that I do not have any manufacturing experience, but they were adamant that the leadership skills I have was what they were looking for.”
    By the time Fernandez finished the program, he had 14 college credits issued by Washburn Institute of Technology with nine industry-specific clarifications including safety in manufacturing production, quality practices and measurement, manufacturing processes and production, maintenance awareness, fork lift operator, certified production technician plus hands-on issued by the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council, OSHA-10, and WorkKeys’ applied math and reading for information assessments issued by American College Testing.
    “I do believe (the Career Skills Program) prepares soldiers and provides them the expectations that these manufacturing companies look for. HMA provides a baseline of certifications to be successful in the manufacturing industry,” Fernandez said. “In my case, it’s important especially when you have a family to support. That was my biggest fear. I want to make sure that I’m proactive on having a job before I leave the military. Programs much like Heroes Make America are great at assisting soldiers find employment.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Fernandez said he hopes the military continues to provide more opportunities to soldiers as they transition.
    “It’s a way for the military to show appreciation to the men and women that fought honorably for our country by never leaving them behind,” he said.
    Other service members presenting today include 1st Sgt. John Bissen, former senior enlisted advisor for Center for Army Lessons Learned, who trained with FEMA, and Sgt. Josh Doughty, former corrections specialist at the 15th Military Police Brigade, who trained with the “One Warrior at a Time” Manufacturing Program through KCKCC as a welder.
    For more information about the program, call the Career Skills Program Administrator at 684-8999.
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