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Fayetteville Tech helps Fort Bragg soldiers transition to civilian work

 Soldiers walk to a class on the campus of Fayetteville Technical Community College.
Fayetteville Technical Community College
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Soldiers walk to a class on the campus of Fayetteville Technical Community College. The Transition Tech program trains service members even before they leave the Army.

Fayetteville Technical Community College continues to expand a program designed to help soldiers transition to the civilian workforce.

For a little over seven years, the school has partnered with businesses to prepare active duty service members for civilian jobs through the Transition Tech program. This year, FTCC announced that Red Hat has joined the program to help soldiers learn skills for IT careers.

Other courses help soldiers earn commercial drivers licenses or prepare them for professions like automotive repair or emergency medical services. Soldiers can enroll within the last six months of their military service while still on active duty.

In many instances, service members don’t have to pay for the courses or take exams. Some courses are funded through federal workforce funds.

“This program has helped me as far as getting a better knowledge base or getting to take the test to get the certifications for free," said Corporal Leonardo Angulo, a current student who hopes to take an IT certification exam. "The instructor is really knowledgeable, so I'm learning a lot."

The courses in the program are about more than reading books.They also teach practical skills about how to navigate new careers.

“They have to have competence so that they can go into the industry of technology," said Chris Herring, who chairs FTCC's Systems Security & Analysis Department. "But a big part is being there to support them as they make this transition to a world they're honestly not that used to."

FTCC Transition Tech recruiter Pendy Eldridge said that the final six months of soldiers' military careers are crucial to their ability to find employment and succeed in the civilian world.

"You’re off Uncle Sam’s payroll," she said. "There's bills that you have to pay that you didn't when you were on post."

College officials try to stay in communication with the commands on Fort Bragg, which they say release almost 10,000 soldiers back into the workforce yearly.

Although Angulo has been fortunate enough to take part in the program, he said some service members haven’t been able to because the decision is left up to commanders.

"I have heard the other chain of commands definitely make it harder for you to get into these programs, either because they need a body or for some other reason or another that doesn't really benefit the service member, '' Angulo said..

Eldridge said Fayetteville Tech officials can help in situations like that because of their relationship with Fort Bragg's commands. She said there have been fewer problems as word of mouth about the program continues to spread.

Sharryse Piggott is WUNC’s PM Reporter.
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