Tri-Base Jacksonville recognizes 18 service members and military spouses who have completed the Onward to Opportunity (O2O) career skills training program.

TRI-BASE JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (9/12/16) – Last week at Naval Station Mayport USO Center, the Schultz Family Foundation (SFF) and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University recognized 16 trailblazing service members and military spouses who completed the very first Navy Onward to Opportunity (O2O) career skills training program in the nation.

As graduates of the O2O program, 9 transitioning service members and 9 military spouses from Naval Station Mayport, Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Navy Sub Base Kings Bay have completed a combination of classroom and online training in the areas of customer service excellence and information technology and, as a result, have earned industry-recognized credentials and certifications associated with their field of study.

The first Navy O2O Cohort was launched at the Navy College Office and Education Center at Naval Station Mayport on June 27th 2016.  The graduation ceremony on the 9th of September was officiated by the O2O Program Manager for Tri-Base Jacksonville, Patricia Piazza.  Lt. Kevin Stanley, Deputy Command Chaplain provided the Benediction and the Guest Speaker was Captain Stacey Wright, Commander Navy Region SE Director Fleet & Family Readiness.  The ceremony was also attended by the Commanding Officer, Naval Station Mayport, Captain David Yoder, Command Master Chief, Naval Station Mayport, Bill Houlihan, Commander Naval Surface Squadron-14, Commodore Glenn Kuffel and Deputy Commodore Captain Dale Maxey also attended the ceremony to show support for their transitioning service members and spouses participating in the program.   Senior Consultant, Tim Giles of Assessment Technologies Group (ATG), a local employer partner, made a special announcement to the graduating students about a federal grant providing each of them an envelopment containing a 2-year free membership to the Pelocity System. Pelocity provides real time trending data on future job openings, the actual locations of available jobs and the earning potential within a Career Fields. Tim Giles stated, “the ceremony was great and we are really looking forward to working with the Jacksonville O2O Team to help place their students in rewarding careers.”  ATG will be providing the students training on the system in the next week.

The O2O Program is a multi-phased process designed to help participants select the best training pathway, provide tailored training in career development and coaching and prepare our nation’s service members and their families for the process of successfully securing employment with one of our nation’s top military-friendly employers.

“Thank you so much.  I appreciate the support.  I used a lot of the information we learned in class and really walked through all the steps from start to finish…I definitely believe that having all of you as my resources and learning everything I possibly could, helped me succeed in finding this new career. So thank you again!” said Melody Nauta, active duty military spouse, Customer Service Excellence graduate.

Charlene Simmons-Welch, active duty spouse stated, “Thank you very much and I would gladly take part in anything that is given by the O2O program. Within those 4 days of class\training I obtained a lot of information and the most important for me was negotiations of salary. I was able to go into my most recent interview with confidence and I knew how to ask for what I knew I deserved. They offered me just that minus 25 cents and I was happy and forever grateful that I took the class. Before this class, negotiation wasn’t one of my stronger skills. I accepted the offer and will make it up when I’m promoted to a better position and better pay in the future. Again, thanks to all involved in the program and [ya’ll] willingness to help. I’m looking forward to graduation and networking within the program and outside sources.

According to Patricia Piazza, O2O Program Manager for Tri-Base Jacksonville area, we live in the most military friendly city in the U.S. With approximately 50,000 veterans residing in the NE corner Jacksonville area the O2O Program gives our transitioning service members an edge over other job seekers by coaching and helping our service members and their families identify the ideal career path in Customer Service Excellence, IT Tracks or Project Management and assist in their career transition and achieve their career goals.

“The Onward to Opportunity program has the potential to fundamentally shift how the private sector engages and supports our service members and their families as they navigate the transition to civilian employment,” says Dr. J. Michael Haynie, Executive Director and Founder of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), and Vice Chancellor at Syracuse University. “O2O’s ‘pipeline’ approach to workforce skills training, offered at Camp Pendleton, allows transitioning service members to receive training aligned with present and future demand in the labor market, supporting a ‘job-ready’ transition from military service to the civilian world of work.”

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Media Contacts:

Dennis F. Kulis | Senior Communications Designer and Publication Coordinator, IVMF
Phone: (315) 443-1642, Email:

Patricia Piazza, Onward to Opportunity Program Manager Tri-Base Jacksonville
Phone: (904) 563-7980, Email:

About the Schultz Family Foundation
Announced in 2015 in conjunction with U.S. Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Ashton Carter, Onward to Opportunity is the latest initiative of the foundation co-founded by Starbucks chairman and chief executive officer Howard Schultz and his wife Sheri Schultz. The Schultz Family Foundation, established in 1996 by Howard and Sheri Schultz, creates pathways of opportunity for populations facing barriers to success. The Foundation invests in innovative solutions and partnerships that unlock people’s potential, and strengthen our businesses, our communities, and our nation. In March 2014, the Schultz Family Foundation launched Onward Veterans, a national initiative that empowers post-9/11 and their families to successfully transition to civilian life. For more information about the Foundation and its work:

About Onward to Opportunity (O2O)
Onward to Opportunity (O2O) is a no-cost career skills program (no use of GI Bill Benefits) offering in-demand, industry-validated training and credentials to transitioning service members and all active-duty spouses. Offered on U.S. military installations across the country, O2O provides in-person and online training to the next generation of leaders of America’s economy. O2O partners with leading veteran service organizations and private sector companies to identify employers committed to training and hiring veterans and military spouses. These employer partners are engaged throughout each phase of O2O delivery by assisting in curriculum design, interacting with participants as they progress through the program and identifying specific career paths and interview opportunities within their company that align with the skillsets of our graduates.

O2O brings together the longstanding curriculum development and program delivery expertise of the IVMF; the honed personal touch of service member coaching and mentoring of Hire Heroes USA; and the philanthropic resources of the Schultz Family Foundation.

About the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF)
The IVMF is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Supported by a world-class advisory board and public and private partners committed to advancing the post-service lives of America’s service members, veterans and their families, the IVMF delivers class-leading programs in career, vocations, and entrepreneurship education and training. The IVMF also provides actionable and national impacting research, policy analysis and program evaluation; coordinates comprehensive collective impact strategies; and works with communities and non-profits to enhance service delivery for veterans and their families. Read more at

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