Fort Carson will launch a program in September to provide a free career skills training program for veterans and their spouses transitioning into civilian life.

“I think it’s very exciting,” said Joe Aldaz, installation program manager for Fort Carson. “This program is available to all institutions. What separates us is that the career skills program is at no cost and you don’t have to use GI Bill benefits.”

Training classes will be offered four times a year, once per quarter, Aldaz said.

Fort Carson is the 12th location in the United States to offer the Onward to Opportunity-Veterans Career Transition Program.

“We’re the only one in Colorado,” Aldaz said. “My office is on Fort Carson but I’ll be doing a lot of outreach for this. We expect to extend the program to four more locations by the end of next year: Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Knox, Ky.; the Military District of Washington in D.C.; and Navy Region Great Lakes in Chicago.”

O2O-VCTP has already reached more than 12,000 military-connected people since 2015 and placed more than 750 participants in new or better careers. It allows participants to gain industry-validated training and credentials, and then offers guaranteed interviews with some of the 400-plus military-friendly employers connected with O2O-VCTP.

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The Fort Carson program will offer certification-training tracks in information technology, business management and customer service excellence. Fort Carson will offer “Onward to Your Career” training and access to online learning pathways with the expected outcome of funding one industry certification exam for participants.

“Our goal is to have 50 to 75 students,” Aldaz said. “It will begin in mid-September or no later than mid-October.”

Aldaz said the addition of Fort Carson to the O2O-VCTP portfolio is another step to reach the program’s goal to be the No. 1 career skills program to serve transitioning service members, post 9/11 veterans and spouses.

“As an Air Force veteran who has made the transition to the civilian sector, O2O-VCTP bridges the military-civilian divide and enables our transitioning service members to gain industry skills to work in meaningful employment in the civilian sector,” he said.

Employers also benefit from this program by saving on training and recruiting costs by hiring highly qualified O2O-VCTP graduates. This helps fulfill a commitment of hiring talented veterans and military spouses.

“O2O-VCTP is excited to partner with Fort Carson,” said Anthony Cosby, director of employer outreach at IVMF. “Through engagement and a strong relationship with our employer partners, we are able create phenomenal career opportunities. Our employer partners understand the value of our O2O-VCTP participants and how they represent the best this country has to offer.”

In the next five years, more than 1 million service members and military families will transition to civilian life. For many, finding employment will be the most challenging part of their transition. To ease the stress of transition, O2O-VCTP brings together curriculum development and program delivery expertise from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University and the support of career coaching and mentoring by Hire Heroes USA. The Schultz Family Foundation — the owners of Starbucks — and JPMorgan Chase & Co. fund the program as part of their dedication to serving those who serve.

Interested participants can visit onward2opportunity-vctp.org to learn more and sign up. To learn about becoming an employer partner or supporter, visit onward2opportunity-vctp.org/o2o-vctp-employers.