Transitions: From Military Service to Civilian Life
“Successful transitions are about attitude, ambition and placing the mission first. As we have done our entire military careers; never accept defeat, never quit and never leave a fallen comrade and to make this point clear, this is why I am here today. I have been in your seat, I have experienced many of the emotions you are going through and can provide you hope and encouragement that the future is yours for the taking.”
Kim Ringeisen, Director of Engineering at Cisco, spoke last month at the Wounded Warriors Project graduation ceremony for the Transition Training Academy at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. An 11-year veteran of the US Army, Ringeisen, was the keynote speaker for a 100 person graduating class of transitioning soldiers.
Also with him were Dale Robbins and Marissa Gaithers, members of Cisco’s Veterans Enablement and Troop Support Employee Resource Group.
“Soldiers today are very highly trained in their chosen discipline and in core values that the military instills on every soldier who has served, you have the competitive advantage, you have the spirit that many corporations seek.
“The Military is all about transitions, this is not new… You do not just arrive and you’re done, no! You will always improve your position, train and ensure your personal and team readiness, even if that team is you and your wife or partner. Do not let this transition rattle you, even though for some it will feel like deploying to a foreign land where nothing is familiar, questioning along the way, “will I make it?”, “is their hope for me?”, “how can I compete with the college grads?”, “ I’m in combat arms, but want to be a Network engineer, is this possible?”
“Keep in mind in that foreign land that you are entering, there are hundreds of thousands of veterans already there that can assist you in some form or another.”
About 27 percent of veterans age 20 to 24 are unemployed, according to recent statistics from the Labor Dept. Transitioning to civilian life is challenging. Ringeisen recounted his own experience:
“My transition away from active duty (but not away from the military) started back in 1991, after the first Gulf War. I departed the Army in Europe, known as a “European Out”, which was rare, in a country where I was classified as a foreigner… There were no transition support teams or programs to help me find my place on the civilian side, you walk out the gate and that’s it.”
The Transition Training Academy (TTA) is one way to support wounded veterans in a successful transition to civilian life. The Transition Training Academy, run by the non-profit Wounded Warriors Project, helps participants explore Information Technology (IT) as a potential career field.
The program focuses on specific IT skill sets including network design and introductory knowledge of software systems and support. The courses prepare participants for industry certifications, such as the CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ certifications.
In addition to the TTA, the Wounded Warriors Project provides mental and physical wellness programs as well as support for families of wounded veterans.
Coming up on October 18, 2011 is Cisco Veterans Corporate Technology Day at multiple Cisco sites in the United States. To see a video overview of last year’s event, click here.
About Transition Training Academy and Cisco Systems
Cisco Systems has supported the Wounded Warrior Project’s education programs since 2006, serving as a founding developer of the Transition Training Academy (TTA). TTA was established as a joint effort of the US Department of Labor (DoL), Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, Cisco Systems, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP).
The TTA program has provided 1,173 participants and 966 graduated students with the opportunity to learn both standard and advanced IT skills. To date Cisco has invested more than $1.25 million in cash and in-kind donations.