Career skills program set for retiring airmen

Submitted PhotoTech Sgt. La Peachez Clark is the chamber’s first active-duty member hired through the career skills program.

VALDOSTA – The Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce is once again supporting troops and helping airmen transition back into civilian life by supporting the career skills program.

The career skills program, also known as Job Training, Employment Skills Training, Apprenticeships and Internships, is a vocational program hosted by the Department of Defense SkillBridge Initiative, chamber officials said.

The program is designed to prepare service members of all branches for the transition from military to civilian careers and focuses on the practical application of learned skills that can later lead to employment, they said.

The career skills program offers vocational and technical training. The training is separated into three categories: apprenticeships, internships and on-the-job training.

To qualify for the program, an airman must complete 180 continuous days of active-duty service and expect to be discharged or released within 180 days. Participation must be approved by the first field-grade officer who is authorized to impose non-judicial punishment in the airman’s chain of command.

The chamber extends this opportunity to airmen nearing the end of their military service with the hopes of providing invaluable work-place skills needed for the eventual career field of their choosing, chamber officials said.

La Peachez Clark, events and military engagement director at the chamber, is the chamber’s first career-skills intern as well as "a testament to the effectiveness of the program," chamber officials said.

Clark became aware of the program after a former chamber employee reached out to the career skills program coordinator at Moody Air Force Base with a listing of openings for interns.

Clark describes transitioning from a military career to a civilian career as difficult as many servicemen receive a culture shock when readjusting to civilian life.

“After members leave the military, they do not always have the opportunity to find a job right away,” Clark said. “The transition is not always smooth depending on the military member’s skill set and coping with the way things are in the civilian sector.”

The career skills program seeks to make that transition easier, chamber officials said.

Clark said she believes a helping hand in the transition from military to civilian life is owed to servicemen and women.

“We have sacrificed so much for our country called ‘Home of the Free and Land of the Brave,’” Clark said. “It is a way of paying it forward.”

Clark said the chamber offers airmen an opportunity to intern with an organization that works intimately with the local community. The opportunity has allowed Clark a peek into the world of civilian business that she plans to enter.

“It has opened my eyes to the way business is conducted in the civilian world opposed to what I have grown accustomed to in the military,” Clark said. “It has enabled me to make an informed decision with the correct career path I should take post retirement.” 

For more information about internship opportunities, contact Lauren Pope, (229) 247-8100, ext. 231, or lpope@valdostachamber.com.

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