JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
To prepare service members for their future in the civilian job market, the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force launched the Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program in 2015. Through the COOL program, the military helps veterans compete for jobs in the civilian sector, decreasing the population of unemployed veterans.
Through the program, enlisted service members can obtain certifications and licenses to not only enhance their current work performance, but enhance their likelihood of civilian employment after they leave the service.
“The Department of Defense pays out 950 million dollars a year in unemployment benefits for separated veterans,” said Jeffrey Jager, 633rd Force Support Squadron education services officer. “The COOL program is one way to reduce that cost to the government, but also provide people, hopefully, a job fairly quickly in their chosen career field.”
To mediate the amount of money spent on the unemployment benefits, the Army and Air Force pays for certification exams, as well as continuing recertification within service members’ career fields. Each service offers money to help members pursue their desired credential.
According to Jager, the program also provides Soldiers and Airmen with the credits they received for work completed in the Armed Forces. He also stated that having those civilian-recognized certifications allows for an easier transition for someone separating or retiring from the military.
Using the Army COOL program, the Fort Eustis’ Maritime and Intermodal Training Department exercise their resources to set their Soldiers up for success. After graduating the watercraft course, students have the necessary credentials to work upon and manage a civilian watercraft.
“It’s important to provide the credentialing program to the Soldiers because we are providing them with the education, certifications and licenses they need to get a job and be successful inside and outside the service,” said Lesa Barbour, Maritime and Intermodal Training Department training specialist course manager. “More so, the economy needs them to have these skills and certificates because they provide the trade skills that have been dwindling in our area for so long.”
According to Jager, ensuring military members have continuing success while in the service, as well as outside the service is a key goal for the Armed Forces.
“Everyone [should] take advantage of the COOL program,” said Jager. “It’s a good opportunity for the government to help Service members get credentials and credit for their skills. Depending on their goals, whether they want to separate or stay in a while, this tool, like many of the other tools offered to military members, will help our veterans separate themselves from their civilian counterparts.”
For program details, call the Air Force COOL program office at 334-649-5115 and for Army COOL, visit https://www.cool.army.mil.