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NEWS | April 29, 2024

Scared of life after the military? Don’t be.

By MaryTherese Griffin Army Recovery Care Program

It was no holds barred for the U.S. Department of Labor, Assistant Secretary of Veterans' Employment and Training Service at the 2024 Leadership Summit for the Army Recovery Care Program. Soldier Recovery Unit leaders, wanting to further help wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers at their respective Soldier Recovery Units (SRUs) peppered him with questions. Secretary James Rodriguez responded like the DOL's personal encyclopedia on all things job-related for service members in transition.

"I always start with this: It is an individual's responsibility, and the second thing I say is you are not a victim. I, as a military person, get to decide if I am going to be successful when I transition from the military," said the former career Marine, who explained he had five different MOSs over the course of 21 years and is now doing something completely different than what he did in the military.

The audience, consisting of ARCP senior leaders, raised questions ranging from preparing for specific job fields to concerns about spouse employment. One senior leader remarked, "Finding the right job is challenging." In response, Rodriguez unveiled a new employment initiative that is set to make a lasting impact: the Employment Navigator Partnership Program. This program, he emphasized, is designed to shift the narrative and foster a greater appreciation for military service within corporations at select locations.

"This is an extension of TAP (Transition Assistance Program). I have over fifty partners across the country that we can connect them directly to for that transition." Rodriguez said that the job or field does not matter. "We have organizations that are our partners with a national presence to which we can connect you.

The two-year pilot program is not just a concept but a proven success. Rodriguez, with evident enthusiasm, shared this achievement with the leadership, underlining the tangible benefits it has brought to veterans. "We are seeing, through our preliminary data analysis, that when someone uses the Employment Navigator Partnership Program, they are more likely to get a job faster and are getting higher earnings than someone who just goes through traditional TAP."

The intrigue for this program was apparent, and the question of spouses came up in hopes of passing the knowledge to Soldiers in the SRUs. Rodriguez had excellent news. "I hear the spouses say, 'We need jobs!' We have training and educational opportunities, but having all this education is irrelevant if you do not get a sustainable job." He said spouses transition from duty station to duty station, too, and he wants corporate America to help. "We are working with companies to help spouses transfer their jobs with them, or at least stay employed until they can get their next job," said Rodriguez, who added they are trying to get legislation passed to support this effort.

Rodriguez offered advice to those facing the inevitable transition out of the military.

"Our military is more educated today than ever in our nation's history, officers and enlisted alike. We have more resources today than ever in our nation's history. The work world wants more people with licenses and certifications, so while you are on active duty, get licenses and certifications that will transition into successful careers after you leave the military."

According to Rodriguez, there are hot jobs in constant need of filling. Take notes! "The next 5- 10 years, the hot jobs that need to be filled are cyber security; there are over a million jobs in cyber security right now IT, of course, is a growing industry. Also, there is a need for pilots in the airline industry, and yes, you can use your GI bill to get your pilot license." He included AI as a hot job as everyone utilizes it, and there are also green energy jobs.

"If you go to, you will see all the resources we have as an agency. Veterans, active, guard, reserve, and spouses can utilize it."

Rodriguez reassured the leaders that he sends a firm, constant message to corporate America. "The military invests millions of dollars in the professional development of service members, so you should put it to use in your corporation, and you will have a better employee and a better corporation."