Nine Fort Bragg Soldiers in the process of transitioning from military service to the civilian work force were the first to graduate from the Caliber Collision Training Center course, Friday at Fayetteville Technical Community College.
The 18-week course, which is a collaboration between Caliber Collision, FTCC and Fort Bragg’s Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program’s Career Skills Program, gives transitioning service members the training they need to succeed in the collision repair industry.
The nine Soldiers — Sgt. Kristopher E. Bishop, Sgt. 1st Class Ronald L. Davis, Spc. Dillon Dues, Staff Sgt. Steven Galloway, Spc. Esteban Gonzalez, Spc. Thai K. Luu, Spc. Johnathan Sare, Staff Sgt. Dominick S. Thompson and Spc. Ryan Weston — were each also provided a toolbox worth $2,500 and an employment offer at a Caliber Collision location in North Carolina, Florida or California.
Bill McMillian, SFL-TAP Transition Services manager, said the Caliber Collision Training Center course is one of several CSP offerings available through Fort Bragg’s SFL-TAP. CSP prepares Soldiers for their transition by offering apprenticeships, on the job training, job shadowing, employment skills training and internships.
“Career Skills Program activities fall under the umbrella of training and transition and not the education umbrella; we’re not just trying to provide a training class but prepare Soldiers for employment,” McMillian said.
Dues, one of the Caliber Collision graduates, said he was nervous about transitioning into civilian life. When he started the program he didn’t have any experience fixing cars but now he is happy he went through the course and will begin working for Caliber Collision in Cary, North Carolina once he is out of the Army.
In the past, Soldiers received training on how to get a job, such as resume writing, McMillian said, but now Soldiers are also learning how to keep the job they get through the skills they are learning as well as being connected with employers while they are still on active duty.
“We will bring employers to the installation to train the Soldier while they are still on active duty so when they leave, they are ready to go straight to work. The Caliber Collision course is an example of that. Each of the nine Soldiers have a job (once they leave the military),” McMillian said. “The idea is when the Soldier is getting ready to leave active duty they won’t have to be worried about what they will do next.”
Thompson is one of those Soldiers who was worried about his transition.
Serving in the military is all he has known for the past 14 years. But now he said he gets to have a job working with his hands and gets to be with his Family. Thompson will work for Caliber Collison in Apex, North Carolina.
Soldiers must start the SFL-TAP process no later than 12 months before their separation date, McMillian said. This will allow them to complete the mandatory transitioning requirements as well as use their last six months to participate in CSP programs.
SFL-TAP staff will ensure Soldier get all the information they need to enroll in CSP programs, he said.
“They served their country and we owe it to them to help prepare them for their next career.”